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The black tiger shrimp is a high value species farmed in extensive systems in Bangladesh, India and Vietnam. (Photo: University of Stirling)

New study mitigates concerns over imported farmed shrimp

  (UNITED KINGDOM, 10/20/2018)

A team of scientists at the University of Stirling ensures that imported farmed shrimp is as safe as any other seafood product.

These experts used European Union (EU) data to perform a risk assessment on shrimp imports, which have a reputation among some consumer groups as being of low quality.

Professor Dave Little and Dr Richard Newton, of Stirling’s Institute of Aquaculture, working with colleagues at Shanghai Ocean University, also found that shrimp imports have become much safer to consume in recent years.

“Over several decades – since farmed shrimp imports first appeared on supermarket shelves – a negative narrative has grown over environmental and social malpractice. This has included claims that tropical farmed shrimp are grown in polluted water and treated with large quantities of chemicals, which can be harmful to human health,” explained Dr Newton.

Dr Newton and the team analysed 18 years of data from the EU’s Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed (RASFF), which contains information on food and feed imports that have been found to contain banned or excessive quantities of substances, and subsequently removed from the market.

“Based on the information in the RASFF database covering 1998 to 2015, our study found that consumers would need to eat more than 300g of shrimp per day to exceed the ADI for antimicrobials,” Dr Newton pointed out.

The research also identified shortcomings in the RASFF system when it comes to determining acceptable daily intakes (ADIs), with the scientists concluding that – in reality – the ADI is likely to be “much higher” than the 300g calculated because the RASFF database only contains information on contaminated shrimp and not those available to consumer.

Over the 18-year period, the number of alerts dropped markedly despite shrimp imports increasing – meaning that shrimp have become much safer to consumer as exporting countries meet the safety demands of importers more effectively. The numbers peaked in 2002, in relation to large numbers of consignments contaminated with antimicrobials, the experts said.

The study concluded that there was scope for the RASFF system to be improved to allow a better understanding of risk associated with food consumption, and also highlighted a need for standardising testing procedures throughout EU member states, as well as third parties.

The research, Assessment and communication of the toxicological risk of consuming shrimp in the EU, was funded by the Seafood Importers and Processors Alliance.

 
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