US shrimp import refusals plummeted in 2017
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s refusals of shrimp imports due to banned antibiotic use have fallen to their lowest level in five years.
The FDA refused 55 entry lines of shrimp for reasons related to banned antibiotics in 2017, the lowest total number of shrimp entry line refusals for banned antibiotics reported since 2012. In December, 2017, FDA said there was only one shrimp import refusal due to antibiotics from Myeik Zenith Industrial Co., Ltd., which is based in Myanmar. The refusal marked the first time that the FDA had taken action against shrimp originating from Myanmar.
The latest downturn in import refusals is positive news for U.S. shrimp importers, according to the National Fisheries Institute.
“The latest numbers show that FDA is refusing fewer shipments, and this is evidence that suppliers are in fact doing better,” Gavin Gibbons, vice president of communications for NFI, told SeafoodSource.
However, the Southern Shrimp Alliance, which represents commercial shrimpers in the U.S. South, contends that FDA is testing significantly fewer shrimp imports, which could be the reason behind the decline in 2017.
“Other major shrimp importing nations continued to report significant detections of banned antibiotics in shrimp imports, particularly from India and Vietnam,” SSA said in a statement. “Instead, at a time when the European Union has mandated that one out of every two shrimp shipments from India be tested for banned antibiotics, the FDA’s reporting in 2017 implies that significantly less testing of shrimp shipments was conducted in 2017 compared to prior years.”
In addition, the government of Japan reported that six of its 73 total import refusals in December were Vietnamese shrimp that contained banned antibiotics, John Williams, executive director of SSA, told SeafoodSource.
In the U.S., a significant portion (27.3 percent) of the total shrimp entry line refusals in 2017 antibiotics were attributed to Vietnam-based Minh Phu Seafood Corporation, and its affiliate, Minh Qui Seafood, according to SSA. Plus, 85.5 percent of all shrimp entry line refusals for banned antibiotics last year were from three countries: China (including Hong Kong), Vietnam, and India.
However, the NFI’s Gibbons said if the FDA had consolidated the number of companies or countries into a group the receives added scrutiny, it means that FDA “is effectively using its resources to target the right threats,” Gibbons said.
“FDA’s system is not one that indiscriminately tests for the sake of testing,” he said. “Targeting the risk and going after it efficiently is the hallmark of a successful system.”
Williams, of the SSA, said that increased testing of shrimp imports for antibiotics residues would “create substantial disincentives to source shrimp from farmers that use antibiotics.”