GAA states shrimp can be obtained from certified farms. (Photo: GAA)
GAA addresses news story on dangers of farmed shrimp
Tuesday, May 22, 2012, 23:30 (GMT + 9)
The Global Aquaculture Alliance (GAA) is assuring seafood eaters that the use of antibiotics is neither common nor accepted in shrimp farming. The statement refers to a recent ABC News story, which warns that most shrimp eaten by Americans is raised in “shockingly disgusting conditions” in farms abroad.
"They're very, very crowded [pens] and there are a lot of disease problems so the farms end up using a lot of antibiotics and chemicals to keep the shrimp alive and grow them faster," said Patty Lovera of Food and Water Watch, ABC News reports.
The GAA refuted this claim by saying shrimp can be obtained from certified farms.
“In fact, great progress has been made to eliminate antibiotics, and shrimp can now be obtained from certified sources that provide the food safety assurance that consumers demand,” the GAA wrote.
|FDA field inspector checks imported shrimp. (Photo: FDA)
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) routinely tests imported seafood and exporting countries -- such as India, Thailand and Vietnam -- test and screen shrimp for banned antibiotics and chemicals before they export it. Countries like China and Thailand also monitor their shrimp farms directly, the GAA explained.
ABC News had quoted FDA commissioner Margaret Hamburg as saying that only 1-2 per cent of imported seafood products “actually get manually inspected."
Further, seafood buyers in the US often demand that their suppliers test products for illegal substances, and this requirement has become mandatory for certification programmes such as Best Aquaculture Practices (BAP), which the GAA created specifically to address concerns such as antibiotics in farmed shrimp, the GAA specified.
The ABC News article published on 14 May also noted that 90 per cent of the shrimp Americans purchase is farmed in “shockingly disgusting conditions that promote disease.”
The GAA countered that BAP-certified farms produce 192,350 tons (174,500 tonnes) of shrimp per year and that most of this is sold to the US, where it represents over 25 per cent of imported shrimp.
"The shrimp farming industry recognizes the use of antibiotics in food production should be avoided due to concerns about food safety and the development of antibiotic-resistant bacteria," GAA President George Chamberlain said. "The technology for disease management in shrimp farming has made transformative advances."
Moreover, the GAA explained, pathogens are increasingly managed by using specific pathogen-free broodstock and breeding for genetic resistance to disease. Proper pond preparation, disinfection of incoming water and the application of beneficial bacteria to displace pathogens are all employed to help limit diseases among shrimp.
Regarding antibiotics and other banned substances, the use of these has been slashed as a result of stricter regulation and enforcement as well as pressure from seafood buyers who refuse to buy suspect shrimp, the GAA said.
"GAA has an active educational programme to assist farmers, regulators and policy makers in understanding the importance of health management through prevention," Chamberlain added. "We hope further training will help move all aquaculturists further away from the use of unapproved chemicals."
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By Natalia Real