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The Rise and Fall of Chloramphenicol

August 2001 through May 2005

 

In August 2001, Seafood.com, a seafood site that offers fisheries news and web services, reported that chloramphenicol, an antibiotic that is banned for agricultural use in most countries, was found in farmed shrimp from China.  And so began a story that continues to ripple through the shrimp industry today.  Scroll to the end of the story to read the lastest news first.  To SEARCH the story, hit control-F; to find the next occurrence of your search, hit control-G.

 

August 10, 2001…Germany: The health ministry in the western state of North Rhine-Westphalia has detected high levels of chloramphenicol in a 20-ton shipment of shrimp from China.  The antibiotic has been banned by the European Union (EU) since 1994.  The ministry said it suspected the antibiotic was widely used in Asian shrimp farming and that it would increase surveillance of shrimp imports from the region.  The ministry advised consumers to return the shrimp labeled “Pink Shrimps” or “Asian Pearl Frozen Shrimps” to shops or to food inspection authorities.  Source: Seafood.com.  Ken Koons.  August 10, 2001.

 

September 27, 2001…Vietnam: Traces of chloramphenicol were discovered in Chinese and Vietnamese shrimp in early September 2001.  Since September 19, 2001, every consignment of shrimp exported from China and Vietnam to the European Union has been subject to inspection for chloramphenicol.  Usually, authorities only inspect about 20 percent of the shrimp from Asia.

 

In China, small-scale shrimp farmers use antibiotics, including chloramphenicol, erythromycin, penicillin and streptomycin.  In 2000, China's total shrimp output reached about 300,000 tons, with 210,000 tons from farms.  China produced another 100,000 tons of freshwater prawns (Macrobrachium rosenbergii).  China's prawn and shrimp exports totaled 48,000 tons last year.  South Korea and Japan each imported about 14,000 tons of Chinese shrimp, with another 8,000 tons going to the United States, 2,000 tons each to Hong Kong and Spain, and 900 tons to Italy.  Source: GoFish.com (went out of business on 11/5/01).  September 27, 2001.

 

October 12, 2001…Germany: A food safety scare has broken out over frozen shrimp imported from China, Vietnam and Southeast Asia.  Retailers in Hamburg, Baden-Württemberg, North Rhine-Westphalia and Saxony have recalled shrimp because it contained traces of the antibiotic chloramphenicol, which is outlawed in the European Union.  The contaminated shrimp will be destroyed.  Source: GoFish.com (went out of business on 11/5/01).  October 12, 2001.

 

January 2, 2002…USA: The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is planning to increase its testing and detention of imported aquaculture products.  The agency announced that it would do more testing for drugs that are illegal on USA fish and shellfish farms.  It will reject products that have non-approved drug residues.  Source: Seafood.com.  FDA to increase inspection of aquaculture imports.  John Sackton. January 2, 2002.

 

January 4, 2002…California: The Consumer Advocacy Group filed a 60-day notice of intent to sue all companies selling imported shrimp in California for failing to put chloramphenicol warning labels on their products as required by state law.  Information: Bob Collette, National Fisheries Institute, 1901 North Fort Myer Drive, Suite 700, Arlington, VA 22209 USA (phone 703-524-8880, fax 703-524-4619, email rcollette@nfi.org webpage http://www.nif.org).  Source: The NFInsider, a weekly faxed newsletter that’s received by members of the National Fisheries Institute (a trade association).  January 4, 2002.

 

January 11, 2002…Thailand: Charoen Pokphand Foods (CPF), the largest exporter of Thai shrimp, called on Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Somkid Jatusripitak to ban the import and distribution of the antibiotic chloramphenicol in Thailand.  The EU banned shrimp imports from China, Vietnam and Indonesia after finding they contained chloramphenicol.  Thai shrimp exports might also be banned because its shrimp farmers routinely mix chloramphenicol with feed to cure shrimp diseases.  Chingchai Lohawatanakul, president of CPF, said Thai shrimp exports are now being closely inspected for chloramphenicol in the EU and other importing countries.  The EU has not found chloramphenicol in Thai shrimp.  Chingchai said the Fishery Department has issued an order forbidding farmers from mixing chloramphenicol with animal feed, particular shrimp feed.  The department will also dispatch inspectors to ensure the order is adhered to and that export standards are met.  Source: The Wave.  Thai shrimp company pushes for chloramphenicol ban; CP moves quickly to protect shrimp.  January 11, 2002.

 

January 18, 2002…Germany: Today, Reuters news service reported that a spokesman for the Dutch company Mooijer-Volendam confirmed that it was his company that imported the shrimp from China that caused a furor in Europe because of trace residues of chloramphenicol.  Instead of destroying the tainted shrimp, as officials in the Netherlands had ordered, the Dutch company shipped the 188-ton load of chloramphenicol-tainted shrimp to a fishmeal plant in Cuxhaven, Germany.  The Cuxhaven plant then sold the product to Austrian, Danish German, Polish and Romanian buyers, and chloramphenicol showed up in European feeds.  Source: Seafood.com.  China was source of tainted shrimp in European feed. Ken Coons.  January 18, 2002.

 

January 28, 2002…Jeff Peterson: At the World Aquaculture Society Meeting in San Diego, California, USA (January 27-31, 2002), Shrimp News asked Jeff Peterson if there were any restrictions on the use of drugs and chemicals in the Chinese shrimp farming industry.  Peterson said: “I don’t want to alienate our Chinese shrimp farming brothers, but they must—for their own good—get a handle on the use of drugs and chemicals.  We went through a big scare in the United States with anthrax, a bacterial disease that is treated with ciprofloxin, commonly known as ‘Cipro’.  A big shortage developed and the price shot up.  During this period, I was in a Chinese agriculture drugstore where you could buy a kilo of Cipro for ten bucks.  They were using Cipro to treat bacterial diseases in shrimp.  If there’s a chemical out there that will solve the problem, the Chinese will use it.  Every village has an aquaculture drug store.  It might be a three-meter by three-meter cubicle with a hundred different products.  A farmer might arrive with a sick shrimp and say, ‘what do I need?’  The storeowner will say, ‘you need ten packets of this and a kilo of antibiotic XYZ’.”  Source: Jeffrey Peterson.  January 28, 2002.

 

February 12, 2002…Ecuador: Ecuador's National Institute of Fisheries announced it would perform tests of all shrimp exports to verify that they are free of chloramphenicol.  Officials will issue a certificate stating that the shrimp was inspected and found to contain no trace of chloramphenicol.  The USA Food and Drug Administration continues to test for chloramphenicol in imported shrimp from Ecuador, but, to date, has not found any trace of it in 39 samples over a six month period.  Source: The Wave.  Ecuador officials to certify chloramphenicol-free shrimp; New rules went into effect January 29.  Dan McGovern.  February 12, 2002.

 

February 13, 2002…California: Preparing to fight a potential lawsuit instigated by the Consumer Advocacy Group, some California seafood companies have retained a law firm to deal with the situation.  On Dec. 31, 2001, the Consumer Advocacy Group, Inc., based in Inglewood, California, warned 18 seafood importers that it intended to sue them for selling shrimp containing the banned antibiotic chloramphenicol and for failing to label their products in accordance with The Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986, better known as Proposition 65.

 

The consumer advocacy group has produced no evidence to date, despite being asked by the state's Attorney General's office to do so, and many believe the filing of the notice is part of a growing trend by a handful of California lawyers to cash in on a bounty hunter clause supported by Proposition 65.

 

"We think that the plaintiffs' attorney that filed the original 60-day notice (of intent to sue under Proposition 65) doesn't have a tremendously high intelligence on the subject matter," said Rob Ross, executive director of the California Fisheries and Seafood Institute and spokesperson for the defendants. "Nevertheless, we are taking it very seriously."  The seafood companies have hired the Sacramento-based law firm Livingston & Mattesich, which met with the state's Attorney General, Bill Lockyer, to discuss the issue on February 15, 2002.  Source: The Wave.  California shrimp dealers hire law firm to fight possible chloramphenicol suit.  Consumer advocacy group needs to still show evidence.  Dan McGovern.  February 13, 2002.

 

February 26, 2002…Louisiana: Reggie Dupre, a Louisiana state senator, has written USA Representative Billy Tauzin (R-Louisiana) alleging that dangerous foreign shrimp has been dumped on the USA market at low prices.  Senator Dupre was acting on a story a constituent had seen in Quick Frozen Foods (http://www.quickfrozenfoods.com) about chloramphenicol in shrimp.  Dupre noted that the USA does not do comparable screening and there are allegations that tainted farm-raised Asian shrimp is being diverted from Europe and dumped on the USA market.  Dupre is calling for a congressional investigation on food safety and unfair pricing.  Local shrimp fishermen tell him that imports depresss the price they get for their shrimp.

 

Louisiana shrimpers have long complained about dumping, and at one point several years ago started work on a trade complaint, but dropped the effort because of cost considerations.  George Barisich, president of a 200-plus member organization called Commercial Fishermen United, said he welcomes federal inquiry into foreign shrimp imports and hopes that eventually protective legislation will result.  “We're getting killed with the Asian market,” Barisich said.  Source: Seafood.com. Louisiana lawmaker calls for shrimp dumping investigation.  Ken Coons.  February 26, 2002.

 

March 8, 2002…China: Chinese officials say the EU exaggerated the severity of the chloramphenicol problem and should not have banned Chinese shrimp.  The officials said the chloramphenicol got into the shrimp during processing and that corrective measures had been taken to prevent it from happening again.  They said the use of chloramphenicol as a veterinary medicine has been banned in China since 2000.  Source: The Wave.  China blames EU for exaggerating "severity" of chloramphenicol issue; PRC officials say corrective measures have been implemented.  Dan McGovern.  March 8, 2002.

 

March 13, 2002…California: California's Attorney General will not pursue legal action against a group of shrimp companies over the chloramphenicol issue.  Source: The Wave.  California Attorney General refuses to pursue chloramphenicol case against shrimp firms; consumer group still could file suit independently.  Dan McGovern.  March 13, 2002.

 

March 18, 2002…United Kingdom: The UK Food Standards Agency has asked that some shrimp and prawns from Asia be removed from store shelves because of traces of the antibiotic nitrofuran.  The agency said that 16 out of 77 samples tested positive for it.  Nitrofuran cannot legally be used in food animals in Thailand, yet samples from Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia, India and Bangladesh were involved in the recall.  Thailand said that it had been advised that the Netherlands had also found traces of nitrofuran in shrimp from Thailand.  After discussions, the Netherlands agreed to inspect the next series of shipments from Thailand, and then reduce the level of inspection if no further contaminants were found.  New testing procedures in the EU are exceedingly sensitive and are likely to continue to find trace amounts of problem chemicals until stronger enforcement action is taken at the producer level.  The United States Department of Agriculture restricts the use of nitrofuran in food animals because it’s a potential carcinogen.  Source: Seafood.com.  New concerns over illegal antibiotic in shrimp in Europe.  John Sackton.  March 18, 2002.

 

March 20, 2002The New York Times: The European Union is stepping up testing of shrimp from Vietnam and Myanmar, and shrimp and chicken from Thailand, after the discovery of banned antibiotics in those products.  The European Commission, which enforces trade and food safety rules, said nitrofuran residues were found in shrimp from all three Southeast Asian countries, and chloramphenicol was found in Thai chicken.  In January 2002, the Commission banned imports of Chinese poultry, rabbit meat, honey, mollusks and crustaceans like frozen shrimps and prawns, after a report said they could be contaminated with chloramphenicol.  Source: The New York Times.  World Briefing: Asia.  P-6A, March 20, 2002.

 

March 21, 2002…Thailand: Thai authorities will meet to discuss ways to salvage their relationship with the European Union.  Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak, who will lead the talks, has promised that Thailand will introduce comprehensive measures to prevent future problems.  The Thai Agriculture Department said the EU would ban shrimp from Thailand if nitrofuran, which has been linked to cancer in humans, were found in the next four to six weeks.  Thai exporters fear losing the lucrative EU market and are worried that shrimp consumption could dramatically drop this year due to the antibiotic scare.  They urge the authorities to act swiftly and reassure the EU and European consumers that Thai shrimp is safe.  Source: FIS.com.  Thai exporters fear losing the lucrative EU market and are worried that shrimp consumption could dramatically drop.  Karen Myles.  March 21, 2002.

 

March 22, 2002…Indonesia: The country's fishing and aquaculture sectors are struggling to overcome serious problems.  The fishing industry is plagued by poaching which costs millions of dollars a year, while the aquaculture sector fights to regain respect on world markets after the antibiotic chloramphenicol was detected in shrimp exports.  Indonesia's shrimp farmers are taking steps to ensure that exported shrimp are chloramphenicol free.  Labs are using high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) machines capable of testing for antibiotics down to 0.1 parts per billion.  All shrimp exports will require a certificate from one of the labs.  In Indonesia, chloramphenicol is banned in aquaculture feeds.

 

Indonesia currently exports approximately 52,000 tons of shrimp a year and uses 360,000 hectares of land for shrimp farming.  Indonesia is the world's second major shrimp exporter after Thailand.  Source: FIS.com.  Fishing, aquaculture sectors battle against problems.  Karen Myles.  March 22, 2002.

 

March 22, 2002…Peter Redmayne: Peter Redmayne, aquaculture and fisheries columnist for Seafoodbusiness.com reports: “A year ago, very few people who buy and sell farmed shrimp had ever heard of chloramphenicol.  And until last week, who had heard of nitrofuran?  These days it seems you have to have a degree in organic chemistry to know what's going on in the shrimp business.

 

And what's going on is pretty chaotic.

 

The ‘food police’ in the European Union are on the warpath, testing all kinds of seafood imports from Asia for chemical residues.  And they're finding them, which is not surprising, since the EU's tolerance levels are so low.  Take chloramphenicol, a powerful antibiotic that is widely banned for agricultural uses.  The EU is testing for a tolerance level for chloramphenicol of 0.1 parts per billion, which is a far cry from the 5 parts per billion tolerance used by the USA Food and Drug Administration.  If the EU goes to 100 percent testing of farmed shrimp, what is getting to be a very big mess will get even messier.  Although Asia's big shrimp farmers argue that their shrimp is chemical free, the reality is, some countries have tens of thousands of shrimp farmers, and very few have taken a chemistry course.  As a result, most of them have no idea what's in some of the mysterious medicines they use to keep their shrimp healthy.  Another problem is that many of the elixirs are mislabeled, both intentionally and unintentionally.” Source: Seafoodbusiness.com.  One Man's Opinion. Chemical chaos.  Peter Redmayne (http://www.seafoodbusiness.com/redmayne.htm).  March 22, 2002.

 

March 25, 2002…Thailand: In an emergency action approved yesterday by the Thai Finance Minister, the government of Thailand announced that all shipments of shrimp and poultry to the EU currently on the water are being recalled for testing.  The government is attempting to take quick action to prevent further disruption of its shrimp and poultry markets.  The action was taken to preserve the long-term viability of the industry, and to reassure European customers that no Thai products contain banned antibiotics.

 

According to the Bangkok Post, the chemicals and antibiotics banned in the EU are chloramphenicol, chloroform, chlopromazine, colchicine, dapsone, dimetridazole, nitrofurans (including furazolidone), metronidazole and ronidazole.  Those banned in the US are chloramphenicol, chenbuterol, diethystilbestrol, dimetridazole, ipronidazole, other nitroimidazoles, furazolidone, nitrofurazone, other nitrofurans, sulfonamide drugs in lactating dairy cattle (except approved use of sulfadimethoxine, sulfabromomethazine and sulfaethoxypyridazine), fluoroquinolones and glycopeptides.  Source: Seafood.com.  In emergency action, Thailand recalls all EU bound shrimp and poultry exports.  John Sackton.  March 25, 2002.

 

March 26, 2002…Vietnam: Authorities said last week that Vietnamese shrimp are free from harmful antibiotics following claims from the EU that the antibiotics had been discovered during spot checks of shrimp from Thailand, Myanmar and Vietnam.  Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Phan Thuy Thanh said: "Experts have informed us that there are no antibiotics or chloramphenicol substances in Vietnamese shrimp exports to the EU."  On January 29, 2002, Vietnam outlawed the use of chloramphenicol in food production after the European Union banned a range of Chinese food exports said to contain the drug.  New regulations adopted on January 22, 2002, require all food producers to certify and label their produce as chloramphenicol-free said fisheries department senior inspector Nguyen Nhu Tiep.  Source: FIS.com.  Authorities deny contaminated shrimp claims.  Karen Myles.  March 26, 2002.

 

March 26, 2002…Thailand: Thailand announces a ban on 17 chemical products used in shrimp and chicken feeds.  Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Somkid Jatusripitak said the Cabinet had approved the ban, which will take immediate effect.  “We want to show categorically that we are seriously concerned about this issue.”

 

Adirek Sripratak, chief operating officer of Charoen Pokphand Food Plc (CPF), said, “The negotiations are bearing fruit as the EU still allows the importation of Thai frozen shrimp, but all shipments will be inspected around the clock until the two sides can agree on food safety standards.”  Source: The Wave.  Chemical crackdown: Thailand moves to quiet EU concerns.  March 26, 2002.

 

April 4, 2002…Ecuador: Jorge Illingworth, Executive Director of Ecuador's National Aquaculture Chamber (Camara Nacional de Acuacultura) emailed: We would like you to publish and distribute the attached press release:

 

In the press release Sandro Coglitore, President of the National Aquaculture Chamber, says: “It has come to our attention that a rumor is going around the international shrimp trading community that some frozen Chinese cultured white shrimp (Penaeus vannamei) is being exported to South American countries where the origin of the product is changed in order to avoid the strict inspection for antibiotic residues.”

 

“The National Aquaculture Chamber of Ecuador wishes to inform you that by law the importation of shrimp from any Asian country is strictly prohibited and has been banned for the past 3 years.  Therefore, all buyers of shrimp bought in Ecuador can be absolutely certain that the product is of Ecuadorian origin.”  Information: Jorge Illingworth and Sandro Coglitore, Camara Nacional De Acuacultura, Av. Francisco de Orellana y Miguel H. Alcivar, Centro Empresarial las Cámaras, 3er Piso, Ofic. 301 (Cdla. Kennedy Norte), P.O. Box 09-04-741, Guayaquil, Ecuador (phone 593-4-268-3017, email cna@cna-ecuador.com, webpage www.cna-ecuador.com).  Source: Email from Sandro Coglitore on April 4, 2002.

 

April 12, 2002…European Union: A three-month-old ban on Chinese shrimp will remain in place until China can guarantee that its products are free of harmful drugs, the European Commission said in a much-anticipated report detailing findings of its investigation into Chinese food products.

 

The report reveals “serious deficiencies” in the Chinese drug residue control system and says that China has been unable to convince the EU that it had implemented “sufficient guarantees that Chinese food commodities of animal origin exported to the EU do not contain harmful residues of veterinary drugs or of other harmful substances.”

 

The report is based on findings from an EU mission to China on November 8-22, 2001, to evaluate the control of residues in live animals and animal products.

 

Jia Youling, director of animal husbandry and veterinary bureau for the China’s Ministry of Agriculture, called the report “partial and inaccurate”, saying any conclusions based on it “could be incorrect.”  Youling also said the decision to ban Chinese food products violates World Trade Organization rules and was “unjustified and not the result of careful study.”  He said the chloramphenicol residues found in tests were “generally very low” and that the EU’s standards were too “rigorous.”

 

In a letter dated October 2001, Chinese authorities said chloramphenicol residues must have come from contamination during processing, saying that some workers used chloramphenicol on their hands.

 

The EU's report said there is no specific legal provision in Chinese legislation to perform mandatory residue control programs in food commodities of animal origin or live animals.

 

Shandong Province is the biggest exporter of prawns and the second biggest exporter of shrimp in China.  Liaoning Province is also a big exporter of shrimp and prawns.  The inspection team visited an EU approved shrimp/prawn processing plant on Zhoushan Island, where most of the chloramphenicol-positive consignments originated.  Source: The Wave.  EU ban on Chinese shrimp to continue.  Dan McGovern.  April 12, 2002.

 

April 15, 2002…Japan: Japan's Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry says inspections of shrimp from China, Vietnam, Thailand and Myanmar must be rigorous.  From now on, tests for chloramphenicol will be done on ten percent of the shrimp imported from those countries, while five percent of all shrimp from India, Indonesia and Bangladesh will be tested.  Source: FIS.com.  Authorities intensify tests on Asian shrimp.  Haruo Chiba.  April 15, 2002.

 

April 18, 2002…India: The Indian government imposes rigorous controls on shrimp processors and exporters after receiving a communication from the EU that three shrimp consignments were found to contain the banned antibiotic, nitrofuran.  Source: The Wave.  Indian government bears down on shrimp exporters.  Exporters face new stringent controls.  April 18, 2002.

 

April 25, 2002…Canada: The Canadian government has found traces of the banned antibiotic chloramphenicol in two shipments of shrimp from China and one shipment from Vietnam.  A “hold-and-test” protocol is now in force to check “every shipment” of shrimp from China and Vietnam along with stepped up surveillance of seafood products from other Southeast Asian nations for the presence of chloramphenicol.  All shipments found to contain traces of the banned drug are being shipped back to the country of origin at the expense of either the shipper or receiver.  Canada checks about 15 percent of the lots of shrimp from Asia.  Canada placed Chinese shrimp products on its import alert list in late January 2002, but did not find the adulterated shipments until mid-February.  Source: The Wave.  Canada finds chloramphenicol in Chinese, Vietnamese shrimp; imports on “hold-and-test” status. Chloramphenicol rears ugly head north of USA border.  Dan McGovern.  April 25, 2002.

 

May 2, 2002…India: The European Union says only a couple of consignments of Indian shrimp contained traces of the antibiotic, chloramphenicol.  Consequently, it issued a red alert instead of a ban.  Since the detection of the antibiotic, Indian authorities say they have stressed to shrimp farmers that they must stop using chloramphenicol.  Source: FIS.com.  Antibiotic found in Indian shrimp.  May 2, 2002.

 

May 5, 2002…Peter Redmayne: Peter Redmayne, columnist for Seafoodbusiness.com, says: The shrimp business has become a big crapshoot.  The European market for Asian shrimp is dead, since other Asian producers can't afford to risk having their containers seized and destroyed by EU regulators.  As a result, shrimp that used to go to Europe is going to the United States, which is putting pressure on prices.  When that happens, big buyers sit on the sidelines, much to the dismay of importers, most of whom had a miserable year last year due to the steadily falling prices.

 

And what about the Food and Drug Administration?  So far, it’s sticking to a higher tolerance level of 5 parts per billion versus the EU's 0.1 ppb, but that could change.  If the FDA lowers its level and starts checking every container of shrimp from Asia like the Canadians have started to do, watch out.  The shrimp industry—and anybody who buys and sells shrimp—would suffer severely.  And since the USA imported $3.6 billion worth of shrimp last year, almost all of it farmed, this is no small matter.  Source: Seafoodbusiness.com.  One Man's Opinion: Industry's unpredictable nature hasn't changed.  Peter Redmayne.  May 5, 2002.

 

May 7, 2002…Thailand: The Black Tiger Shrimp Farmer Producers and Exporters Association of Thailand is urging the government to publicly announce that Thai shrimp are safe for consumption.  The association's honorary president, Thanun Sovanapreecha, said that reports of antibiotic residue found in Thai shrimp caused a significant fall in shrimp prices.  The association periodically sends out inspectors to check shrimp farms throughout the country.  If antibiotic substances are found, those specific farms will be blacklisted, and the association will not buy products from them.  “After a series of inspections, we found no trace of antibiotic substances in the members’ products,” Thanun said.  Source: FIS.com.  Shrimp farmers clean up act.  May 7, 2002.

 

May 8, 2002…Thailand: With new controls in place, including a requirement for certificates that product is free of chloramphenicol and nitrofuran, Thai shrimp exporters expect to resume shipments to the EU next month.  The issue did not have a major economic impact, since Thai shrimp exports to the EU have become much less important in the last couple of years, after Thailand lost its preferential trade status with the EU.  The majority of Thai shrimp goes to Japan and the USA.  In Japan, the standard for chloramphenicol is 30 parts per billion; in the USA, it is 5 parts per billion.  The EU has a zero tolerance policy.  Source: Seafood.com.  Thai exporters set to resume shrimp exports to the EU.  May 8, 2002.

 

May 9, 2002…Louisiana: Just days after announcing it had detected the United States' first case of chloramphenicol in a sample of imported Chinese crawfish, a state of Louisiana official says inspectors have found the first traces of it in Chinese shrimp.  Bob Odom, Louisiana's Commissioner of Agriculture and Forestry, would not say how many samples of shrimp were found to contain traces of chloramphenicol at just over 2 parts per billion, but did say it was “more than one.”  The samples have been delivered to an independent laboratory for further testing to confirm the presence of banned antibiotics.

 

Meanwhile, the Canadian government says that two additional lots of Chinese shrimp tested for drug residues were found to contain traces of chloramphenicol at 2.5 ppb.  Since then, Canada has decided to test down to 0.3 parts per billion.

 

The USA Food and Drug Administration is testing 160 foreign and 140 domestic lots of shrimp.  So far, fewer than 100 lots have been tested with no detection of chloramphenicol at above five ppb.  Source: The Wave.  Louisiana now finds chloramphenicol in Chinese shrimp.  Dan McGovern.  May 9, 2002.

 

May 13, 2002…Dr. George Chamberlain: President and founder of the Global Aquaculture Alliance (GAA) and technical manager of a big shrimp farm in Malaysia, says: In an effort to develop an industry-wide strategy toward the issue of antibiotic residues in shrimp, a discussion was organized at the European Seafood Show (Brussels, April 24, 2002) by the Seafood Importers and Processors Alliance (SIPA), the Global Aquaculture Alliance (GAA), and the National Fisheries Institute (NFI).  This meeting was not publicly announced nor listed on the program, yet approximately 80 industry representatives participated.

 

Chamberlain reported after the meeting: Chloramphenicol and nitrofurans are broad-spectrum antibiotics which pose a high risk of toxicity to humans.  Chloramphenicol can cause potentially fatal aplastic anemia and leukemia, and nitrofurans are carcinogens.  The use of these antibiotics in animal food production has been banned for at least a decade in most countries.

 

Advancing analytical technology is allowing detection of substances at ever diminishing levels.  For example, heavy metals, pesticides and carcinogens can be highly toxic, yet they are found in virtually all wholesome foods at trace levels.  Studies have shown that such low levels are innocuous.  With increasing analytical capability, it is unrealistic to expect foods to be free of any detectable level of hazardous substances.  In order to determine the point at which a hazardous substance presents a health risk, food safety experts have developed the concept of the Maximum Residue Limit (MRL).  This is the amount of residue considered without any significant toxicological risk for human health.  MRLs are based on Acceptable Daily Intakes (ADIs), which in turn are based on NOAEL (No Observable Adverse Effects Level) derived from animal and in vitro trials.  A regulatory precedent exists for this type of situation with dioxins, which are ubiquitous.  Dioxin regulations reflect this reality by setting achievable limits—not zero tolerance.

 

In the case of chloramphenicol and nitrofuran, insufficient toxicity data are available to establish MRLs.  Consequently, regulations promulgated during the 1980s and 1990s banned the use of these antibiotics in food production and established a zero tolerance policy.  In other words, no detectable residues are permissible in animal foodstuffs.  However, interpretation of zero tolerance varies widely among countries.  In Japan, the zero tolerance threshold for chloramphenicol is defined as 50 ppb.  In the USA, the Food and Drug Administration defined its zero tolerance threshold as 5 ppb, which was the limit of detection technology at the time the regulation was developed.  FDA has detected no chloramphenicol residues at this limit in approximately 40 samples of imported shrimp analyzed during the last year.

 

No chloramphenicol residues have been detected in shrimp imported into the USA, but all measurements have been based on FDA threshold levels.  In the case of nitrofuran, the USA has developed neither a standard detection method nor a threshold level for zero tolerance.  In the EU, the zero tolerance threshold is based on the minimum detectable limit.  This is a moving target that continues to decline with advancing analytical technology.  In recent months, shrimp have been rejected at chloramphenicol levels as low as 0.1 ppb.  At detection levels of less than 1 ppb, hundreds of positive samples have been detected.  Not only is the EU rejecting shipments that exceed its tolerable limits, it recently stipulated that such shipments must be destroyed rather than returned to the country of origin.

 

The shrimp industry worldwide is fully committed to eliminating the use of banned antibiotics.  Massive educational campaigns have been undertaken at the farm level.  Importing companies have added antibiotic residue criteria to HACCP programs.  Competent authorities in exporting nations have intensified surveillance of residues in finished products.  Information: George W. Chamberlain, President, Global Aquaculture Alliance, 5661 Telegraph Road, Suite 3A, St. Louis, MO 63129 USA (phone 314-293-5500, fax 314-293-5525, email georgec@integra.prserv.net, webpage http://www.gaalliance.org). Source: Email and attachment from George W. Chamberlain.  May 13, 2002.

 

May 14, 2002…USA: Last week, a coalition of health, consumer, agricultural, environmental and other advocacy groups with more than nine million members joined the American Public Health Association in endorsing a bill introduced by United States Senator Edward M. Kennedy to phase out the routine feeding of medically important antibiotics to healthy farm animals.  The legislation, “The Preservation of Antibiotics for Human Treatment Act of 2002”, is similar to a bipartisan bill pending in the United States House (H.R. 3804, introduced by Representative Sherrod Brown), which has been endorsed by the American Medical Association.

 

The Kennedy bill introduction coincides with the release of a new report by the Alliance for the Prudent Use of Antibiotics (APUA) that concludes antibiotic use in farm animals “contributes to the growing problem of antibiotic resistance in human infections,” which “limits treatment options, raises healthcare costs and increases the number, severity and duration of infections.”  Source: Seafood.com.  Several groups endorse Kennedy bill to restrict use of antibiotics in feeds.  May 14, 2002.

 

May 16, 2002…Louisiana: Louisiana's Agriculture Commissioner Bob Odom says that during routine drug residue testing, a sample of canned shrimp sold by a “national company” was found to contain 21 parts per billion of the banned antibiotic chloramphenicol—four times more than what is allowed under federal law.  That discovery—and others in recent weeks—has led the state of Louisiana to begin requiring, by May 24, 2002, all retailers selling Chinese shrimp and crawfish to verify that their product has tested negative for chloramphenicol.  “If they can't prove it's a clean product, we will tell them to pull the product,” Odom said.  He also said, “Many USA packers are buying product from China and marking it as domestic.”  Source: The Wave.  Louisiana to expand chloramphenicol inspections to state's supermarkets and grocery stores.  Dan McGovern.  May 16 2002.

 

May 20, 2002…Louisiana: United States Senator John Breaux from Louisiana has taken up the “ban-the-bugs” banner in the case of Chinese crawfish and shrimp.  Crawfish and shrimp producers have been seeking relief from the cheaper Chinese competition.  Breaux wrote a letter asking USA Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson to issue an order to refuse all shellfish imports from countries using banned antibiotics.  He is also seeking support on an amendment to the USA trade bill that would make more frequent testing by states and the FDA a part of federal law.  Food contaminated with chloramphenicol is coming into the United States with next to no testing because the FDA's system is not up to the standards of Europe and Canada, Breaux said.  Source: The Wave.  USA Senator takes fight against chloramphenicol to national level.  May 20, 2002.

 

May 20, 2002…John Sackton: John Sackton, part owner of Seafood.com, says: At the end of last week there were a series of developments regarding the issue of chloramphenicol detected in Chinese shrimp.  The Louisiana legislature passed a bill instituting statewide testing of imported crawfish and shrimp for chloramphenicol residues.  The state has adopted a zero tolerance policy.  The testing regime will begin in about two weeks.  The momentum here is for the USA to go fairly quickly to a zero tolerance level for chloramphenicol, as has been done already in Canada and Europe.  Source: Seafood.com.  Shrimp and chloramphenicol update.  John Sackton.  May 20, 2002.

 

May 23, 2002…USA: The United States Food and Drug Administration has lowered the minimum acceptable level of chloramphenicol in food products from five parts per billion to one ppb.  “We are now able to confirm any presence of chloramphenicol in shrimp down to one part per billion,” an FDA spokesperson said.  The spokesperson said no chloramphenicol has yet been detected in any seafood shipment from China tested by the nation’s food safety agency.  Source: The Wave.  FDA lowers action level on chloramphenicol residues; Canada, Louisiana finding more of the banned antibiotic.  Dan McGovern.  May 23, 2002.

 

May 24, 2002…USA: The Senate passed substantial trade legislation recently, but dropped from the bill was an amendment calling for a complete ban on all shellfish imports contaminated with illegal drug residues, particularly chloramphenicol, a bill introduced by Senator John Breaux.  Source: The Wave.  Senate passes trade bill; call for ban on shellfish containing chloramphenicol dropped from bill.  May 24, 2002.

 

May 24, 2002…Louisiana: The Department of Agriculture and Forestry has issued emergency regulations to allow the start of a testing program for all imported Chinese crawfish and shrimp.  The testing will require importers to have all Chinese product tested in approved laboratories.  An analytical laboratory at Louisiana State University can handle up to 100 samples a day.  Shrimp from other countries will receive random testing.  Source: The Wave.  Louisiana implements emergency rules—all importers of Chinese shrimp and crawfish must now test for chloramphenicol.  May 24, 2002.

 

May 28, 2002…Louisiana: Louisiana Congressman Billy Tauzin, who chairs the Energy and Commerce Committee, which has jurisdiction over the FDA, has asked the Agency to reduce the allowable level of chloramphenicol in imported shrimp.  The FDA is likely to comply and will soon issue protocols for determining chloramphenicol levels in imported shrimp.  The European Union has a tolerance of 0.3 parts per billion.  Canada has a tolerance of 2.5 ppb.  The FDA is looking at protocols that would allow for a tolerance of 1.0 ppb.  Source: Seafood.com.  If trade sanctions won't work, maybe health issues will, says Tauzin aid about imported shrimp.  John Sackton.  May 28, 2002.

 

June 5, 2002…Louisiana: Mega-retailer Wal-Mart yanked all Chinese shrimp and crawfish products from shelves in its Louisiana stores after its suppliers failed to provide documentation certifying the shrimp as having been tested for chloramphenicol under new state rules.  Two million pounds of Chinese shrimp and crawfish was detained because either it tested positive for the banned antibiotic chloramphenicol or it did not carry the proper paperwork.  Retailers are subject to a $5,000 per day penalty for each package of shrimp that cannot be confirmed as either chloramphenicol-free or not of Chinese origin.  Source: The Wave.  Wal-Mart yanks Chinese shrimp and crawfish from all Louisiana store shelves.  Dan McGovern.  June 5, 2002.

 

June 5, 2002…Louisiana: A bill that strips the severance tax on local shrimp and places it on imported shrimp breezed through the Louisiana House with only one dissenting vote.  The tax would be renamed an “excise tax” and placed on all saltwater shrimp imported into the state.  It's one of several bills lawmakers have introduced in reaction to shrimpers' complaints that an increase in cheap foreign imports threatens to drive them out of business.  The measure passed the House 104-1 and now heads to a Senate committee.  If approved, it would take effect July 1, 2002.  Source: The Wave.  Legislation taxing foreign shrimp passes Louisiana House of Representatives.  June 5, 2002.

 

June 7, 2002…Florida: Florida, which had quietly been doing chloramphenicol testing on shrimp since April 2002, has expanded its testing program and has discovered three positive samples, two from China and one from Vietnam.  One of the samples from China tested at 2.7 parts per billion.  At least 35 samples tested negative for chloramphenicol.  With states going off on their own before definitive action by the FDA, importers and retailers are left to navigate a confusing regulatory situation, roiled by politics as much as by public health.  Source: Seafood.com.  Shrimp hits the fan on chloramphenicol.  John Sackton.  June 7, 2002.

 

June 14, 2002…Chloramphenicol Test Kits: Charm Sciences, based in Lawrence, Massachusetts, and Neogen Corporation, located in Lansing, Michigan, are two companies trying to keep up with the demand for antibiotic testing equipment.  Neogen's ELISA test shows chloramphenicol residues down to two parts per billion and is being revised to detect down to one ppb to meet FDA's newly established guidelines.  ELISA stands for Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay and is a semi-quantitative rapid test that can be applied to fresh, thawed frozen and cooked product.  Charm’s products can detect chloramphenicol residues down to 0.5 ppb.  Source: The Wave.  The growing demand for chloramphenicol test kits.  Dan McGovern.  June 14, 2002.

 

June 14, 2002…Louisiana: John Sackton, part owner of Seafood.com says: Any pretense that the shrimp testing in Louisiana is based on public health concerns, rather than a political attempt to force Chinese shrimp out of the state, has evaporated as the implementation of the program comes into focus.  Louisiana officials have virtually forced foodservice distributors to stop carrying Chinese shrimp by placing onerous requirements on individual restaurants.  Under the rules adopted in Louisiana, a distributor is required to provide a certificate that its shrimp is free of chloramphenicol to each restaurant.  This means that the distributor has to certify to the operator that the lot from which the shrimp were delivered was tested, and that it passed, and the operator has to have such a certificate in his possession.

 

This action by Louisiana is a direct attack on how distributors do business.  By imposing an unacceptable business risk, it has effectively blocked distribution of Chinese shrimp in the state.  While Louisiana legislators may cheer, the fact is that we have a national economy, and laws governing interstate commerce that prohibit a range of discriminatory actions.  The FDA must quickly implement a national policy on testing that will preempt action by the states.  Business groups such as the Louisiana Restaurant Association must stand up for their members and prevent the outrage of forcing restaurants to only use seafood selected by the state.  Source: Seafood.com.  Louisiana plays hardball with imported shrimp.  John Sackton.  June 14, 2002.

 

May/June 2002…Dr. Darryl Jory: Darryl Jory, shrimp farm columnist for Aquaculture Magazine and editor of the Global Aquaculture Advocate, says: The origin of the chloramphenicol residues in the Asian shrimp has not been established and could have come from one of the following sources:

 

1. The addition of chloramphenicol to hatchery water

2. The addition of chloramphenicol to growout feeds

3. The addition of chloramphenicol to bactericide mixtures used to disinfect processing equipment, or reduce the superficial bacterial load on shrimp

4. The use of chloramphenicol as a topical medicine by people who come in contact with shrimp

5. Presence of chloramphenicol as a natural contaminant in mold within foodstuffs or the aquatic environment

 

Analyzing chloramphenicol residues is costly.  In Belgium, seven test samples are required for shipments of up to 500 master cartons, and 15 test samples are needed for shipments having 1,200 to 3,200 master cartons.  The cost for one gas chromatography analysis is about $120, and seafood containers have to stay in demurrage (cold storage) for 2-4 weeks while the analyses are completed.  Source: Aquaculture Magazine.  Antibiotic residues in cultured shrimp: The chloramphenicol issue.  Darryl Jory.  V-28, N-3, P-73, May/June 2002.

 

June 14, 2002…Peter Redmayne: In early June 2002, in Beijing, Redmayne met with a Chinese official who explained how chloramphenicol got into Chinese farmed shrimp.

 

Redmayne says: “I spent the morning meeting with officials from the Bureau of Fisheries.  Mr. Zhang Hecheng, the Deputy Director General...explained...that the Chinese people use medicines that contain chloramphenicol for a variety of simple medical problems from eye infections to cuts.  The reason Chinese shrimp and crawfish tested positive, he says, was mainly because workers who had cut their hands peeling the shellfish and used a medicinal balm were not wearing gloves.  That stopped immediately, he said, because the plant managers knew they couldn't risk not being able to export their product.  Peeling tiny shrimp and crawfish wearing gloves is a lot slower, but the plants had no choice.”  Source: Seafoodbusiness.com.  One Man's Opinion.  China's rude awakening.  Peter Redmayne. June 14, 2002.

 

June 17, 2002…Louisiana: In the final hours of the state legislative session last week, lawmakers from some of the shrimp fishing parishes in Louisiana slipped $700,000 into a supplemental budget for equipment to test shrimp and crawfish.  The money will provide the LSU agricultural chemistry laboratory with updated equipment and personnel.  Source: Seafood.com.  Louisiana legislature approves $700,000 for shrimp testing.  John Sackton.  June 17, 2002.

 

June 18, 2002…Thailand: German authorities have found traces of the antibiotic nitrofuran in shrimp from Thailand.  The ministry said state health authorities had been testing produce from Thailand following warnings from the European Union and that the tainted load had been discovered about four weeks ago.  It said the public had not been warned because the risks to consumers were minimal.  Source: FIS.com.  Traces of suspect drug found in Thai shrimp.  June 18, 2002.

 

June 19, 2003...Canada Inspects Thailand: The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) has informed the Thai Fisheries Department that it plans to begin antibiotic inspections on imported fishery products from Thailand.  The inspections will focus on nitrofurans.  Products with toxic residues will be destroyed immediately.  Source: Seafood.com.  Canada to begin immediate inspections of all Thai seafood products for antibiotic and nitrofuran residues.  John Sackton.  June 19, 2003.

 

June 28, 2002…Alabama: The owners of Beaver Street Fisheries, Inc., took issue this week with a press release about two of its Sea Best brand products that was issued by Charles Bishop, Commissioner of Alabama's Department of Agriculture and Industries.

 

“Our family and employees have been selling Sea Best products for over 30 years in the state of Alabama and around the world and have never once failed to provide good wholesome food,” said Karl Frisch, executive vice-president of Beaver Street Fisheries.

 

The Commissioner's office stopped the sales of two Sea Best brand products, Salad Shrimp and Whole Boiled Crawfish, alleging the presence of chloramphenicol based on an unconfirmed preliminary test that does not satisfy USA Food and Drug Administration (FDA) protocols.  Frisch went on to say, “Every shipment of seafood sold under the Sea Best brand is thoroughly inspected and meets or exceeds federal standards.  We just think the Commissioner's office overreacted to a nonvalidated preliminary test result.  We don't know why he did not call us first.”

 

Beaver Street Fisheries is in communication with the University of Florida, the National Fisheries Institute, the Food Marketing Institute, and various federal and state agencies to help clear up the confusion caused by the Commissioner's press release.  “I'm sure it's all just a very bad mistake on someone's part, but this action has unnecessarily alarmed the citizens of Alabama, hurt our family's pride and endangered the jobs of over 300 American workers.”  Mr. Frisch concluded, “Our family and our employees also eat our products.  We believe strongly in the safety and quality of our products, and, in no way, do we feel any of our products deserved to be removed from sales in Alabama or any other state, for that matter.”  Source: FIS.com.  Beaver Street says 2 Sea-Best products detained in error in Alabama, says tests not using FDA protocols.  June 28, 2002.

 

July 2, 2002…Alabama: How can the lack of regulatory protocol affect a seafood company?  Beaver Street Fisheries recently had some of its products banned from sale in the state of Alabama after tests showed the presence of the banned antibiotic chloramphenicol.  “They jumped the gun.  They really didn't do all their homework,” said Beaver Street attorney Mike Gvozdich.  “The test is not accurate.  It's really a preliminary test.”  “We trust our tests,” countered Ralph Holmes, spokesperson for Alabama's Department of Agriculture.  Source: The Wave.  Is the Alabama ban on Beaver Street shrimp and crawfish products justified?  Who's to say?  Dan McGovern.  July 2, 2002.

 

July 9, 2002…Thailand: Shrimp farmers and traders are now taking charge of the antibiotic problem by investing in residue testing equipment to ensure that exports will not be rejected.  About 200 Samut Sakhon shrimp traders and farmers will pool resources to buy testing equipment from the Netherlands.  Source: FIS.com.  Shrimp industry implements food safety measures.  July 9, 2002.

 

July 10, 2002…Vietnam: No shipments of Vietnamese seafood bound for Europe have been found to contain chloramphenicol in the last three months.  Source: The Wave.  Vietnam says EU-bound seafood remains chloramphenicol free.  July 10, 2002.

 

July 2002…Louisiana: Louisiana restaurants have reported a decline in seafood sales since the state Department of Agriculture and Forestry began testing shrimp and crawfish for chloramphenicol in early May.  Louisiana's restaurant business, the state's largest private industry, generates $4.5 billion annually.

 

“The state loses credibility when it implies that eating crawfish or shrimp containing minute amounts of chloramphenicol can cause fatal aplastic anemia.  There is no comparison between the adverse effects of therapeutic doses of chloramphenicol and trace amounts measured in parts per billion,” says Dr. Brobson Lutz, health spokesman for the Orleans Parish Medical Society and former health director for the city of New Orleans.  “To imply otherwise is akin to saying a drop of vodka in a swimming poll will make a swimmer drunk.”  Source: SeaFood Business.  Food Safety: Chloramphenicol scare slows seafood sales in Louisiana.  Steven Hedlund.  V-21, N-8, P-1, July 2002.

 

July 26, 2002…Louisiana: The Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission is expected to enact a shrimp excise tax on imported shrimp at its upcoming meeting on August 1, 2002.  Source: Seafood.com.  Louisiana likely to enact new shrimp excise tax on imported shrimp on August 1, 2002.  John Sackton.  July 26, 2002.

 

August 2, 2002…Louisiana: The Louisiana legislature has passed an excise tax on imported shrimp.  On whole shrimp, the tax will be assessed at 15 cents per 210 pounds; on shell-on tails, at 15 cents per 125 pounds; and on peeled shrimp, at 15 cents per 75 pounds.  The funds will be used to regulate and monitor shrimp imports, including tests for chloramphenicol.  Source: The Wave.  Louisiana's seafood imports target of new excise tax.  August 2, 2002.

 

August 9, 2002…Japan: Japanese authorities have found the antibiotic oxytetracycline (OTC) in a batch of live kuruma shrimp (Penaeus japonicus) that was imported on July 29, 2002, from China.  Consequently, Japan will now test all shrimp imported from China for antibiotics.  Japan's Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry found 2.3 parts per million (ppm) of OTC in the shrimp, which is more than 10 times the acceptable level of 0.2 ppm.  According to the importer, the shrimp were kept in a tank for two days after capture.  The circulation water in the tank was also used for flat fish and the Ministry thinks the antibiotic might have been mixed in with that water.  In September 2002, because of changes to Japan's Food Sanitation Law, authorities will be able ban shrimp imports from problem countries.  Source: FIS.com.  Tough action after antibiotic found in Chinese shrimp.  Haruo Chiba.  August 9, 2002.

 

August 26, 2002…Thailand: According to an Associated Press report: The European Commission has strongly rejected allegations that its testing of Thai fishery and poultry imports constituted a trade barrier or was unfair to Thailand, saying that cancer-causing chemicals had been found in the products.

 

“Since nitrofurans were first found in samples of chicken and fisheries products from Thailand, the European Commission (EC) has worked closely with the Thai authorities and welcomes their most cooperative and constructive approach to the problem.  However, Thai exporters have claimed that EU testing measures on Thai fisheries and poultry products are excessive, discriminatory and not in line with international standards.  These are allegations that the European Commission strongly refutes,” said Johan Cauwenbergh, charge d'affaires at the EC's Bangkok office.

 

In February 2002, a routine check of Thai fishery products exported to the European Union (EU) found residue of nitrofuran.  In the six months since February, 67 shipments—35 of fishery products and 32 of poultry products—have been found to contain nitrofuran.  Nitrofurans are a group of cancer-causing chemicals that have been banned for use in food-producing animals in most countries in the world including Thailand.  The ban is in line with the Codex Alimentarius, the United Nations body that sets global food safety standards.

 

Thailand is one of the countries that have banned the use of nitrofurans, therefore there is no reason why this substance should be found in Thai foodstuffs.  The European Commission rejected allegations that the EU discriminates against Thai products in favor of those from Brazil.

 

The 67 contaminated Thai shipments came from 24 different exporters of fishery products and 11 different exporters of poultry products, while in five cases, the exporter could not be identified.  Source: The Wave.  EC defends testing of Thai food exports.  August 26, 2002.

 

September 9, 2002...North Carolina: Shrimp industry representatives from North Carolina and at least six other states are set to meet with lawyers to discuss lawsuits against countries whose rock-bottom shrimp prices have hurt the domestic shrimp industry.  Shrimp fishermen are considering suing China, Vietnam, Thailand and other countries, said George Barisich, president of the United Commercial Fisherman's Association.  "We stand a better chance of success when all the shrimp-producing states come on board," Barisich said.  "The work can be done more quickly.  We can all come together and set the attorneys loose, and then the quicker it all goes into motion."  Successful lawsuits could result in new tariffs on imported shrimp and could be the first step toward import quotas, but lawyers who specialize in such suits caution that dumping allegations can be difficult to prove.  A key element of any successful anti-dumping petition is proof that a product is not only sold cheaply once exported, but that it is sold more cheaply than the exporting country's own domestic prices, legal experts said.  Source: The Wave.  USA shrimpers meet to discuss lawsuits against Asian producers over alleged dumping.  September 9, 2002.

 

September 12, 2002...Vietnam: Vietnam denied on Thursday allegations by shrimp fishermen and government officials from eight USA states that it dumped shrimp on the USA market.  “I can say with certainty that Vietnam has never dumped its shrimp, and its shrimp have been sold at market price,” Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Phan Thuy Thanh said.  American shrimp fishermen are considering suing China, Vietnam, Thailand and several Central and South American countries for allegedly dumping shrimp, or selling it at below market prices.  Industry representatives from Alabama, Florida, Texas, South Carolina, North Carolina, Georgia, Mississippi and Louisiana decided to form a steering committee that will meet within two weeks and announce a decision on whether to hire lawyers and proceed with the antidumping case.  Shrimp fishermen said they expect to spend about $1 million for preliminary work on the suits.  Successful lawsuits could result in new tariffs on imported shrimp.  An antidumping petition generally must prove that a product is sold at prices lower than the exporting country's own domestic prices.  That is difficult to determine in countries such as communist Vietnam, which is presently in the process of moving toward a full market economy.  Vietnam says its seafood is less expensive because of lower production costs.  Source: The Wave.  Vietnam denies dumping shrimp in the USA market.  September 12, 2002.

 

September 15, 2002...Vietnam: Vietnam has condemned moves by USA shrimp fishermen to consider anti-dumping action against its seafood exports.  USA fishermen and officials from eight southern and eastern seaboard states met last week to discuss a lawsuit against up to 16 countries, claiming they were selling shrimp in the United States at below market prices.  The fishermen mentioned Vietnam, China, Thailand, and other Central and Southern American countries.  Fishermen say farm-raised imports lower the price they get for their shrimp.

 

Nguyen Huu Dung, general secretary of the Vietnamese Association of Seafood Exporters and Processors, rejected the fishermen’s accusations: "They are totally unjustified in saying that Vietnamese producers dumped shrimp on the USA market.  Our shrimps are sold at a higher price than those from many other countries."

 

The United States was Vietnam's largest shrimp export market in 2001 taking 27,200 metric tons worth $317 million and accounting for 43 percent of Vietnam's total shrimp exports.  Source: Yahoo! News (http://au.news.yahoo.com/020915/19/fauj.html).  USA shrimp farmers [a Yahoo mistake, change “farmers” to “fishermen”] latest challenge to trade relations with Vietnam.  September 15, 2002.

 

September 17, 2002...Thailand: Chemical distributors and shrimp farmers have been given until September 18, 2002, to report possession of 17 banned substances as part of a national crackdown on farm use of products prohibited by the European Union.  The campaign gained momentum yesterday when Deputy Commerce Minister Newin Chidchob and Deputy Public Health Minister Surapong Suebwonglee led raids on four distributors in Bangkok.  They targeted United Trading, Tana Soontorn Company, Ocean Farm Chem Company, and Unity Techno Product Company.  Tana Soontorn was found to have 118 kilograms of nitrofuran and 50 kilograms of chloramphenicol.  It imports “supplementary food for shrimp” from Taiwan, but had no license for its operations.  Ten companies have been raided in the past five days.  Minister Newin said the next target would be farm supply outlets in provincial areas.  Source: The Wave.  Thai government raids shrimp farms in search of chemicals.  September 17, 2002.

 

September 17, 2002...USA: No shrimp or other imported seafood product has tested positive for the banned antibiotic chloramphenicol since early August, an FDA spokesperson said on September 16, 2002.

 

Import Alert #16-124, published in late August, allows FDA inspectors to automatically detain seafood products from two Vietnamese companies whose shrimp tested positive for chloramphenicol.  Source: The Wave.  Chloramphenicol concerns subside.  Dan McGovern.  September 17, 2002.

 

September 18, 2002...Louisiana: Louisiana's great antibiotic hunt of 2002 appears to have plateaued.  Agriculture Commissioner Bob Odom said his checks of imported crawfish, shrimp and honey for chloramphenicol are coming up empty more and more often now.  "I really believe China tried to clean that up, or it’s trying to deliver to other areas," Odom said.  "It won't come here because China knows we're testing."  Source: The Wave.  Chloramphenicol checks coming up empty.  September 18, 2002.

 

September 18, 2002...USA: The National Fisheries Institute is asking FDA Associate Commissioner John Taylor to speed up the implementation of screening tests for chloramphenicol to alleviate a substantial backlog of shrimp imports.

 

FDA was also asked to adjust its rate of sampling to suit its laboratory capacity.  FDA says that presently only analytical test methods (e.g. GC and HPLC methods capable of detecting residue at 1 ppb) will be accepted for testing of automatically detained shrimp by private labs.  Source: Seafood.com.  NFI calls on FDA to clear chloramphenicol backlog.  Ken Coons.  September 18, 2002.

 

September 23, 2002...Thailand: Thailand's shrimp exports plunged by almost 30 percent in the first six months of 2002 due to the chemical contamination scare in Europe.  Source: The Wave.  Thailand's shrimp exports plunge 30% in first half of 2002: Chloramphenicol scare blamed for drop-off.  September 23, 2002.

 

September 23, 2002...Vietnam: European Union veterinary experts have decided to ease import controls on shrimp from Vietnam and Pakistan.  Source: FIS.com.  Controls eased on Chinese fish, shrimp from Vietnam, Pakistan.  September 23, 2002.

 

September 26, 2002...India: India's government has ordered five seafood exporting companies to suspend exports to the European Union (EU), claiming the companies' products contain antibiotic residues banned by the EU.  Hindustan Levers, Ltd. (HLL), International Creative Foods, Choice Canning Company, Integrated Rubian, and Victoria Marines were ordered to stop exporting shrimp to the EU.  The five companies account for 90 percent of the value-added products exported from India.  The move comes on the heels of New Delhi’s assurances to the European Commission that it would ensure that seafood exports would be free of banned substances.  Following the assurance, the EC put on hold a decision to inspect all seafood imports from India.  Government officials said the five companies would be allowed to export only when they complied with EU standards.  Source: The Wave.  Crackdown: India suspends 5 shrimp exporters from shipping to EU.  September 26, 2002.

 

September 27, 2002...India: India's government said it will provide 200 seafood processing companies with $200,000 to purchase antibiotic test kits in response to ongoing threats by the European Union to impose controls on shrimp exports from India.  The government will also outfit three labs with high performance liquid chromatograph (HPLC) and mass spectrophotometer equipment.  Source: The Wave.  India to provide money, equipment to help seafood processors meet EU quality standards.  September 27, 2002.

 

September 30, 2002...Thailand: The Finance Ministry will seek cabinet approval for funds to buy equipment for 30,000 farm centers to test chemical residues.  The kits, costing about 1,000 baht each, are capable of detecting chemical contamination in meat products.  The goal is to persuade European authorities to end their strict inspections of every Thai shrimp shipment.  Source: Seafood.com.  Thai finance ministry proposes chemical testing kits for chloramphenicol.  September 30, 2002.

 

October 2, 2002...China: India’s Marine Products Export Development Authority (MPEDA) says the extensive use of chloramphenicol by the Chinese shrimp farming industry cost China $300 million in lost exports.  Source: Business Standard (newspaper, New Delhi, India, http://www.business-standard.com/today/commod2.asp?Menu=6).  MPEDA cautions against repeat of China case.  October 2, 2002.

 

October 3, 2002...USA: In two weeks, USA shrimpers will decide whether to file an antidumping petition with the Department of Commerce charging 15 "third world" nations that export pond-raised shrimp with selling product in America below fair market value.  Eight states signed up, which translates into 16 USA Senators and dozens of Representatives, including the likes of Senators Trent Lott of Georgia, John Breaux of Louisiana and Representative Billy Tauzin of Louisiana.  Source: The Wave.  USA shrimpers target 15 nations for possible dumping charges.  Dan McGovern.  October 3, 2002.

 

October 8, 2002...USA Legislation: On October 8, 2002, legislation was introduced into the USA House of Representatives calling for a ban on all USA federal subsidies to seven foreign countries and accusing them of dumping shrimp in the United States.  Called “The Shrimp Importation Financing Fairness Act,” it targets Thailand, China, Ecuador, Vietnam, Brazil, India and Indonesia, countries that exported more than 20 million pounds of shrimp to the United States during the first six months 2002.  The bill calls for a complete ban on all USA financial assistance to the seven nations through the USA Export-Import Bank and the Overseas Private Investment Corporation and opposes aid to those countries through the International Monetary Fund until each country restricts export volumes to just 3 million pounds per month for three consecutive months.  The bill is sponsored by USA Representative Ron Paul (R-Texas) and cosponsored by Jack Kingston (R-Georgia).  Exports from the seven countries accounted for nearly 70 percent of all shrimp consumed in the United States in the first six months 2002.  According to the bill, over the last three years, the USA government has provided more than $16.5 billion in financial assistance to these countries through OPIC and the Export-Import Bank.  Source: The Wave.  New bill declares war on imported shrimp from Thailand, China, Ecuador, Vietnam, others.  Dan McGovern.  October 8, 2002.

 

October 9, 2002...USA, Georgia: Georgia Commissioner of Agriculture Tommy Irvin announced on October 8, 2002, that he issued a statewide recall of one brand of frozen shrimp because it contains sulfites.  The product being recalled is SAIL raw shrimp.  The product was packed for Eastern Fish Company in Teaneck, New Jersey, USA.  The shrimp are from Ecuador.  "A routine target sample tested in our laboratory revealed that the shrimp contained sulfites well above tolerance levels and did not list sulfites on the package label," said Commissioner Irvin.  Source: The Wave.  Sulfite allergy alert: Georgia agriculture commissioner recalls frozen shrimp.  October 9, 2002.

 

October 14, 2002...Thailand: The USA Commerce Department confirmed yesterday that Thailand will face legal action brought forward by eight USA states on shrimp dumping charges, according to the Thai Frozen Foods Association.

 

Thailand will be the third country accused of prawn dumping, after Vietnam and China.  Thai shrimp exporters have raised over $230,000 to fight the case.  Source: Seafood.com.  USA Commerce Department confirms that Thailand faces legal action on shrimp case.  October 14, 2002.

 

October 2002...Louisiana: Bob Odom’s reputation is under a cloud, and his political career is in jeopardy.  In late August 2002, he was indicted for accepting bribes, extorting campaign contributions and misusing state funds over his 20 years in office.  Source: SeaFood Business.  Crackdown on imports.  Steven Hedlund.  V-21, N-11, P-1, October 2002.

 

October 2002...The Netherlands: A study released in June by Dr. J.C. Hanekamp of the Heidelberg Appeal Nederland Foundation in Amsterdam, Netherlands, says an individual would have to eat 40 kilograms (around 88 pounds) of shrimp every day for an entire lifetime to reach a one-in-a-million chance of getting cancer from shrimp containing 10 ppb of chloramphenicol.  Source: SeaFood Business.  Crackdown on imports.  Steven Hedlund.  V-21, N-11, P-1, October 2002.

 

October 14, 2002...Thailand: Thai shrimp producers yesterday urged the government, as a retaliatory measure, to impose the same exacting standards on food shipments from the European Union that the EU imposes on Thai shrimp exports.  Source: The Wave.  Thailand strikes back: Shrimp producers urge government to step up inspections of EU imports.  October 16, 2002.

 

October 18, 2002...India: India's Ministry of Commerce has revoked an export suspension order on five of its major shrimp exporters.  In addition, 25 laboratories will be set up in the next 3-6 months to check shrimp for antibiotic residues.  The labs will use methods prescribed by European Union health authorities.  Source: The Wave.  India reinstates 5 shrimp producers.  October 18, 2002.

 

October 22, 2002...Louisiana: Today, representatives of the commercial shrimp fishing industry in eight southern states will discuss the formation of a trade association to stop what they say is a flood of cheap, imported, farm-raised shrimp.  They mention 16 countries that export shrimp to the United States.

 

The USA Department of Commerce and the International Trade Federation, the entities fishermen and processors must petition to obtain trade relief, require that a majority of the industry in a given state or region must show injury from imports, and they must also prove that the injury occurred through dumping.  Source: The Wave.  USA shrimp industry to vote today on trade dispute remedy.  Dan McGovern.  October 22, 2002.

 

October 23, 2002...Louisiana: On October 22, 2002, representatives of eight southern states voted to form the Southern Shrimp Alliance, which is committed to fighting what they believe is unfair competition from imported farm-raised shrimp.

 

The new association is composed of two representatives from Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, and North and South Carolina.  The alliance is cochaired by three industry representatives: George Barisich, president of the Louisiana Shrimp Association; Wilma Anderson, executive director of the Texas Shrimp Association; and Elaine Knight, representing the Georgia shrimp fleet.  Source: The Wave.  Southern states band together to fight imports; trade alliance formed.  Dan McGovern.  October 23, 2002.

 

October 24, 2002...Louisiana: The Southern Shrimp Alliance, a newly formed organization that represents commercial shrimp fishermen in eight southeastern states, has delayed plans to start a dumping case against sixteen shrimp exporting countries.

 

At a meeting on October 21, 2002, in New Orleans, Louisiana, USA, shrimp industry representatives listened to a daylong presentation by the United States Department of Commerce on the procedures for filing a dumping case.

 

At a meeting on October 22, 2002, they listened to a package deal for proceeding immediately with a lawsuit.  The majority of the representatives voted against this approach.  Representatives from Louisiana, Alabama and Florida, however, favored the package deal.

 

Representatives from North Carolina and Texas, supported by a majority of the representatives, voted to table the question of going forward with the dumping suit until their next meeting in Atlanta on December 3, 2002.

 

Funds to support a dumping case were not identified, and a number of delegates were reluctant to commit their individual state organizations to the case without a better understanding of how it would be funded.

 

The delegates selected to the interim board include Wilma Anderson (Texas), George Barisich (Louisiana), Darlene Dopson (South Carolina), Jerry Schill (North Carolina), Elaine Knight (Georgia), Calvin Nguyen (Mississippi), Ernie Anderson (Alabama) and Sal Versaggi (Florida).  Source: Seafood.com.  New gulf shrimp association to review options in December.  John Sackton.  October 24, 2002.

 

October 31, 2002...North Carolina: The North Carolina Fisheries Association agrees with the strategy of the newly formed Southern Shrimp Alliance.  The NCFA board unanimously approved the following statement:

 

"NCFA agrees with the current direction of the Southern Shrimp Alliance to continue discussions regarding shrimp import issues, and not make any effort to expend funds for any reason until the funds are collected.  Further, to continue to look at all options in addressing the shrimp import issue including searching for any appropriate legal team.  All monies collected should be kept separate from NCFA funds, and no NCFA dollars shall be used for this effort except for whatever staff time and travel expenses may be necessary to attend meetings."  North Carolina agreed to begin raising funds immediately.  Source: FIS.com.  North Carolina group endorses shrimp alliance.  November 1, 2002.

 

November 12, 2003...Thailand: According to the Bangkok Post, Thai authorities expect the European Union (EU) to lift the 100% testing requirement on antibiotics in Thai farmed shrimp.  At a recent meeting with officials of the Thai Commercial Affairs Office in Brussels, EU representatives said inspectors had found no banned chemical contamination in Thai farmed shrimp since September 21, 2002.  Pasit Poomchusri, deputy spokesman for the Thai Commerce Ministry, thinks the EU will soon return to random testing of Thai farmed shrimp.  Source: The Wave.  Is EU ready to ease testing of Thai shrimp?  November 12, 2002.

 

December 17, 2002...China: The European Union (EU) took a further step towards relaxing the ban on Chinese seafood products when it announced that all fish products from China are now acceptable—with the exception of eels and farmed shrimp.  Because of the inability to distinguish between farmed and wild shrimp, the EU also bans the import of wild shrimp.  China denounced the ban as unjustifiable protectionism.  It retaliated by prohibiting European cosmetics imports, citing fears of contamination with animal byproducts that might contain mad-cow disease.  China also lodged a complaint with the World Trade Organization, its first since joining the body last year.

 

The EU's ban affected $335 million worth of trade, a small fraction of the overall $105 billion total trade between Europe and China.  However, China said the European restrictions hit its fisheries sector hard since the 15-nation European bloc is the fourth-largest market for its fisheries exports.  Source: Seafood.com.  EU relaxes restrictions on Chinese fish imports, but shrimp and aquaculture products still banned.   John Sackton.  December 17, 2002.

 

January 6, 2003...Thailand: In mid-January 2003, Thai officials will meet with European Union officials in Brussels to present their case for the lifting of the 100-percent inspections on Thai shrimp exports.

 

The EU plans to send a team to Thailand in February 2003 to randomly check the production process.  In previous inspections, EU officials announced their visits.  Now the visits will be surprise visits.  The EU normally inspects Thailand’s agricultural production processes every two years.  Now it has instructed its representatives in Thailand to inspect on a more regular and stricter basis.  Information: The Nation, Nation Multimedia Group, 44 Moo 10 Bang, Na-Trat KM 4.5, Bang Na District, Bangkok 10260, Thailand (phone 66-2-325-5555, fax 66-2-317-2071, webpage http://www.nationmultimedia.com).  Source: The Nation (newspaper, Bangkok, Thailand).   Business: Chicken/Shrimp Exports—Expectations checks will end.   January 6, 2003.

 

January 24, 2003...Thailand: On January 24, 2003, the Bangkok Post reported: On January 22, 2003, the European Union eased its strict tests on antibiotics in Thai farmed shrimp.  “The improved testing methods and other measures introduced recently by the Thai authorities have proven effective and the problem has largely been solved,” said Klauspeter Schmallenbach, head of an EU delegation to Thailand.  Somsak Paneetatayasai, president of the Black Tiger Shrimp Farmers, Producers and Exporters Association, said shrimp traders expected exports to the EU to recover to 15,000 tons in 2003 after dipping to about 5,000 tons last year when the tests were tightened.  Source: Seafood.com.  Shrimp traders hail EU move to ease testing of Thai shrimp.  John Sackton.  January 24, 2003.

 

February 11, 2003...Thailand: In late January 2003, the European Union (EU) decided to stop testing all Thai shrimp imports for antibiotics and to return to its previous regime of just testing 10%.  However, the introduction of the relaxed regime was postponed during the week of February 3–7, 2003, when nitrofurans were discovered in a shipment of Thai freshwater prawns (Macrobrachium rosenbergii) to Italy.  Thai agricultural officials responded by recalling and destroying 15,000 kilograms of freshwater prawns shipped by Sakorn Fishery Company.  In addition, the ministry put the company on a blacklist and took legal action against it, alleging that it had provided misinformation.  Source: The Bangkok Post (newspaper, Bangkok, Thailand).  Shrimp traders’ fingers crossed (http://www.bangkokpost.com/Business/11Feb2003_biz66.html).  February 11, 2003.

 

February 27, 2003...Japan: The Associated Press reports: On February 25, 2003, Sora-at Klinprathum, Deputy Agriculture Minister, said that Japan had imposed stringent inspections on Thai farm-raised shrimp, specifically mentioning chemical residues. Source: The Wave.  Japan steps up residue inspections on Thai shrimp.  February 27, 2003.

 

June 4, 2003...Canada/Vietnam: The Vietnam Economic Times reports: Since June 1, 2003, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency has accepted chloramphenicol inspection certificates from Vietnam's National Fisheries Inspection and Quality Assurance Center, the seafood quality inspection and hygiene agency under the umbrella of the Thai Fisheries Ministry.  The Center is also responsible for safety and hygiene at seafood processing plants and for monitoring the development of aquaculture in Vietnam.

 

Now, instead of checking every shipment, Canada will make random tests on five percent of its shrimp imports from Vietnam.  Source: The Wave.  Canada, Vietnam reach chloramphenicol inspection pact.  June 4, 2003.

 

June 13, 2003...Nitrofurans from Thailand to Canada: Ottawa...The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) is warning the public not to consume IQF, raw, shell-on, jumbo freshwater prawns (Macrobrachium rosenbergii) from an importer in Woodbridge, Ontario, because the product may contain nitrofurans.  Originally from Thailand, the prawns have been voluntarily recalled from the marketplace.  CFIA is monitoring the effectiveness of the recall.  Information: Garfield Balsom (English), CFIA, Office of Food Safety and Recall (613-760-4232) or Brian Radey (French), CFIA, Office of Food Safety and Recall (613-755-3324).  Source: Canada NewsWire.  Warning—Health Hazard Alert—I.Q.F. Raw Shell-On Jumbo Freshwater Prawn—16/20 ct. may contain nitrofurans (http://www.newswire.ca/releases/June2003/13/c2775.html).  June 13, 2003.

 

June 19, 2003: The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) has informed the Thai Fisheries Department that it plans to begin antibiotic inspections on imported fishery products from Thailand.  The inspections will focus on nitrofurans.  Products with toxic residues will be destroyed immediately.  Source: Seafood.com.  Canada to begin immediate inspections of all Thai seafood products for antibiotic and nitrofuran residues.  John Sackton.  June 19, 2003.

 

June 24, 2003...Chloramphenicol Testing: In mid-July 2003, the USA Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will begin testing for chloramphenicol using a sensitivity of 0.3 parts per billion.  As a result of national biosecurity regulations, FDA has hired 800 new people over the past year, and 500 to 600 of them are now inspectors, so expect the total number of inspections to increase.  Information: John Sackton, Chief Executive Officer, Seafood.com, 8 White Pine, Lexington, MA 02421 USA (phone 781-271-1211, fax 781-271-0011, email tsackton@seafood.com, webpage http://www.seafood.com).  Source: Seafood.com.  FDA Expected to announce chloramphenicol testing changes in a few weeks.  John Sackton.  June 24, 2003.

 

June 26, 2003...Thailand: The European Union plans to relax strict testing requirements on Thai shrimp exports soon because the number of positive tests and degree of contamination have now fallen to very low levels, according to a Delegation of the European Commission in Bangkok.

 

Authorities will reinstate random tests on 10% of shipments instead of the current 100% testing.  Thai shrimp exporters say it will take time for them to resume exports to the EU.

 

It had been too risky to ship to Europe because port authorities had the power to destroy contaminated shipments, according to Somsak Paneetatayasai, president of the Black Tiger Shrimp Farmers, Producers and Exporters Association.  “Only shrimp exporters with their own farms will be confident enough to resume exports to the EU market.  Others might hesitate to take the risk,” he said.

 

In the first four months of 2003, shipments of frozen shrimp to the EU fell 83% in weight (to 165 tons) and 78% in value (to $1,436,405), compared to the same period last year, according to the Thai Frozen Foods Association.  The volume of processed shrimp exported in the first four months contracted by 57% to 459 tons; the value dropped by 56% to $3,255,853.  Source: Bangkok Post (newspaper, Bangkok, Thailand).  TRADE/AGRICULTURE: EU to relax tests on Thai shrimp exports; But traders need time to resume shipments (http://www.bangkokpost.com/Business/26Jun2003_biz55.html).  Woranuj Maneerungsee.

 

July 4, 2003...European Union: On June 24, 2003, British authorities discovered a shipment of shrimp from Thailand that exceeded nitrofuran (an antibiotic) limits by as much as eight times.  The European Union limits nitrofurans to one part per billion; the British shipment had traces as high as 8.5 parts ppb.

 

Mr. Chavalit Sethameteekul, director-general of the Thai Customs Department, said the shrimp originated in India, but were repacked in Thailand and stamped “Product of Thailand” by Rich Wealth International.  From Thailand, the shipment went to Hong Kong and then on to England.

 

Rich Wealth International is associated with ICC Cosmos Company, a frozen shrimp exporter in Samut Sakhon, Thailand.  Thai customs officials plan to bring charges against the company.  The Agriculture Ministry said ICC Cosmos falsified certificates issued by the Fisheries Department to say that the products met cleanliness standards.  Customs officials believe the shipments represent just part of a larger multinational conspiracy involving companies in Thailand, Hong Kong, Singapore and England.  Several of the companies involved in the shrimp shipments were found to be just shells with registered capital of $2 or $3.  Source: The Bangkok Post (newspaper, Bangkok, Thailand).  Chemical find prompts call for bar codes; Shrimp labeled Thai originated in India (http://www.bangkokpost.com/Business/05Jul2003_biz87.html).  Wichit Chantanusornsiri.  July 4, 2003.

 

July 11, 2003...Thailand: On July 10, 2003, about 100 crime suppression police and officials from the Thai Fisheries Department raided 30 shrimp cold storage facilities in six provinces.  The officials arrived with court warrants allowing them to enter, take samples and seize export and tax refund papers.  They checked product quality, certificates and tax payments.  The raids were in line with government policy to crack down on the smuggling of substandard shrimp for export.  At ICC Cosmos Company, a frozen shrimp exporter in the province of Samut Sakhon, officials found a large quantity of shrimp smuggled into Thailand from Indonesia, India and Burma.  Source: The Bangkok Post (newspaper, Bangkok, Thailand).  Cold stores raided, stock tested (http://www.bangkokpost.com/News/11Jul2003_news07.html).  Wassayos Ngamkham.  July 11, 2003.

 

July 22, 2003...Indonesia: In 2001, the European Commission decided to test all Indonesian fishery exports after the banned antibiotic chloramphenicol was found in Indonesian shrimp.  The Commission reports “corrective measures have since been put in place” that address the problems, so Indonesian shrimp will be treated like shrimp from any other country.  Source: The Wave.  Indonesian shrimp no longer subject to EU controls (http://www.thewaveonline.com/article/?id=15274).  Deutsche Presse-Agentur GmbH.  July 22, 2003.

 

July 22, 2003...Philippines: Malcolm Sarmiento, director of the Department of Agriculture's Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources, says the government is using Thai facilities to check for nitrofurans in farm-raised shrimp.  The government plans to have its own testing facilities on line by the end of 2003.

 

The government is optimistic that the European Union will lift the ban on Philippine aquaculture products that took effect on July 1, 2002.  The Philippines was in the process of sending three separate shipments of shrimp to Europe when the ban was imposed.  Source: The Manila Bulletin Online.  RP taps new detection tech for EU aquaculture exports (http://www.mb.com.ph/news.php?art=36503&sect=2&fname=BS03072236503f.txt).  Melody M. Aguiba.  July 22, 2003.

 

July 24, 2003...Food and Drug Administratiion: Washington, DC, USA...The Food and Drug Administration has increased its inspections of imported foods fivefold, part of an effort to better safeguard the food supply from possible terrorist contamination.  On July 23, 2003, the Bush administration announced $5 million in new research funding to further enhance food security.  Among the priorities is the hunt for better ways to detect chemical and biological contamination in food and the development of food processing techniques that could eliminate such contamination.  The September 11, 2001, attack on America heightened awareness that the food supply is vulnerable to deliberate contamination.  Of particular concern are the millions of pounds of imported food.  So far this year, FDA has conducted 62,000 inspections of food imports, up from 12,000 in all of 2001.  Information: John Sackton and Ken Coons, Seafood.com, 8 White Pine, Lexington, MA 02421 USA (phone 781-271-1211, fax 781-271-0011, email tsackton@seafood.com, webpage http://www.seafood.com).  Source: Seafood.com.  FDA steps up screening of food imports.  Associated Press.  July 24, 2003.

 

August 4, 2003...New Test Kit for Nitrofurans: On August 1, 2003, R-Biopharm, Inc., a Germany-based company that develops, manufactures and markets rapid enzyme immunoassays for the detection of residues in food and feed, announced that it released the first ELISA test kit for detecting nitrofurans in shrimp.  Information: R-Biopharm AG (http://www.r-biopharm.com), Landwehrstrasse, 54 D-64293 Darmstadt, Germany.  Source: The Wave.  Firm releases test kits for detecting nitrofurans.  August 4, 2003.

 

August 22, 2003...FDA Announces New Stardards for Chloramphenicol: On August 22, 2003, a spokesperson for the USA Food and Drug Administration told The Wave, an online fisheries news service, that FDA can now test for chloramphenicol all the way down to 0.3 parts per billion.  The spokesperson emphasized that no chloramphenicol is allowed in seafood—zero tolerance—but that 0.3 ppb is the minimal amount it can detect.  Source: The Wave.  FDA delays release date of new methylmercury advisory; lowers chloramphenicol enforcement limit.  Dan McGovern.  August 22, 2003.

 

August 26, 2003...Food and Drug Administration: The National Fisheries Institute, a trade association for the fisheries industries, has announced that the FDA has initiated a new sampling assignment to test for chloramphenicol in shrimp.  An FDA assignment is an instruction to FDA field offices to collect a specific number of samples over a period of time.  Generally an assignment has a set number of samples to be collected, such as 200 or 400.  The FDA has not announced the number for this assignment, but has asked its field offices to collect about 12 samples per week.  Samples are then sent to laboratories for analysis.  Due to the need for uniformity among laboratories, the FDA has set the actionable level of detection at 0.3 parts per billion.  They have also posted the sampling protocol to their website.

 

According to NFI, the sampling method described was initially validated at 0.1 ppb, but the FDA will not be enforcing at this level.  The sampling in question is specifically for chloramphenicol.  Nitrofurans will likely be included in a larger overall compliance program that will be initiated later this year.  The current chloramphenicol sampling is open ended and will probably continue until the FDA replaces it with a more comprehensive program.  FDA sampling for chloramphenicol was the subject of several industry meetings with the FDA in June of this year.  Source: Seafood.com.  FDA institutes new sampling assignment on chloramphenicol.  John Sackton.  August 26, 2003.

 

September 5, 2003...EU Certifies Vietnam: The European Union has certified 100 frozen seafood exporters in Vietnam, which means they can export their products to European countries.  Source: The Wave (http://www.thewaveonline.com).  More Vietnamese seafood exporters gain EU certification.  September 5, 2003.

 

September 21, 2003...Philippines: On July 1, 2003, the European Union suspended aquaculture imports from the Philippines because of the government's failure to file a monitoring plan for detecting banned antibiotics—even though no antibiotics had been reported in Philippine seafood exports.  On September 17, 2003, in Brussels, the European Union lifted the ban.  In the Philippines, Agriculture Secretary Luis P. Lorenzo, Jr., said: "The EU members voted to lift the ban imposed on Philippine aquaculture products following the government's immediate submission and compliance with all EU requirements.  These included the acquisition of facilities and sophisticated equipment capable of detecting traces of harmful chemicals and banned antibiotics."  The Philippines exports 2,000 metric tons of aquaculture products to Europe, mainly shrimp, valued at around $10 million.  Source: The Manila Bulletin Online (newspaper, Manila, the Philippines).  EU lifts ban on RP’s aquaculture products (http://www.mb.com.ph/news.php?art=39582&sect=2&fname=BS03092039582f.txt).  Melody Aguiba.  September 21, 2003.

 

October 8, 2003...Japan: Nichirei Corporation, one of Japan's leading food companies and a major shrimp importer, says it will cut the salaries of its president and other senior officials for three months because it was on their watch that shrimp from China containing banned antibiotics were imported and distributed.  Nichirei recalled the shrimp.  Source: Japan Today (online news).  Nichirei to cut execs' pay over shrimp import scandal (http://www.japantoday.com/e/?content=news&cat=3&id=275087).  October 8, 2003.

 

October 24, 2003...European Union Rejects Shrimp: On October 23, 2003, The Taiwan Council of Agriculture promised to increase surveillance of seafood exports after the European Union rejected 30 tons of Taiwanese fish and shrimp because of antibiotic contamination.  According to Chen Lu-hung, director-general of the Department of Health's Bureau of Food Sanitation, eight batches of fish and shrimp exported to the EU between August and October 2003 were found to contain chloramphenicol and nitrofuran residues.  The exporters, most of them located in southwestern Taiwan, were told by their trade associations to suspend operations.  Officials said they would make sure the rejected product was not sold in local markets.  The seafood probably tested negative for antibiotics in Taiwan, but different or more sensitive equipment in the EU found the antibiotics.  There is also the possibility that the seafood was smuggled into Taiwan from China, in which case it would not have been tested before shipment to Europe.  Source: Taipei Times (newspaper, Taipei, Taiwan).  Government to probe tainted seafood (http://www.taipeitimes.com/News/front/archives/2003/10/24/2003073096).  Chiu Yu-Tzu.  October 24, 2003.

 

October 24, 2003...European Union Rejects Shrimp: On October 23, 2003, The Taiwan Council of Agriculture promised to increase surveillance of seafood exports after the European Union rejected 30 tons of Taiwanese fish and shrimp because of antibiotic contamination.  According to Chen Lu-hung, director-general of the Department of Health's Bureau of Food Sanitation, eight batches of fish and shrimp exported to the EU between August and October 2003 were found to contain chloramphenicol and nitrofuran residues.  The exporters, most of them located in southwestern Taiwan, were told by their trade associations to suspend operations.  Officials said they would make sure the rejected product was not sold in local markets.  The seafood probably tested negative for antibiotics in Taiwan, but different or more sensitive equipment in the EU found the antibiotics.  There is also the possibility that the seafood was smuggled into Taiwan from China, in which case it would not have been tested before shipment to Europe.  Source: Taipei Times (newspaper, Taipei, Taiwan).  Government to probe tainted seafood (http://www.taipeitimes.com/News/front/archives/2003/10/24/2003073096).  Chiu Yu-Tzu.  October 24, 2003.

 

November 24, 2003...European Union Finds Nitrofurans: The European Union publishes a weekly report on seafood rejections.  The latest report [no date given] shows that four shipments of prawns from Bangladesh and one shipment from India into the European Union contained nitrofurans.  Source: Seafood.com.  Latest EU rejection reports turn up nitrofurans in shrimp and malachite green in salmon.  John Sackton (phone 781-861-1441, email comments to jsackton@seafood.com).  November 24, 2003.

 

January 9, 2004...Drug Testing in the Philippines: A group of Filipino shrimp exporters has urged the government to negotiate a deal with Japan to develop a laboratory in the Philippines that would check for antibiotic residues in shrimp before they were exported to Japan.

 

Ismael Salih, Jr., president of the Philippine Confederation of Exporters in Central Mindanao, said local shrimp exporters are facing uncertainty due to a recent move by the Japanese government to take over chemical tests on shrimp shipments and reject tests conducted by other laboratories.

 

Because of the ban, Salih said shrimp buyers in Japan now require Philippine exporters to sign “ship-back” guarantees.  “Exporters are now obligated to ship back to the Philippines at their own expense any shipment found to contain any of the banned antibiotics, with no right to be paid for such shipment, and to reimburse the buyer the full amount if the shipment is already paid,” he explained.

 

Salih said the situation could be remedied if Japan would accredit a local laboratory.  Source: Minda News (a publication of the Mindanao News and Information Cooperative Center, General Santos City, Mindanao, Philippines).  Shrimp traders want accreditation of laboratory for Japan exports (http://www.mindanews.com/2004/01/08nws-exporters.html).  Allen V. Estabillo.  January 9, 2004.

 

March 5, 2004...New Hygienic Standards in China: China recently informed the World Trade Organization of its new hygienic standards for aquatic products, including shrimp.  The United States Department of Agriculture is soliciting comments on them until March 26, 2004.  Source: NFInsider (weekly, emailed newsletter to members of the National Fisheries Institute).  Editor, Thomas Ressler (tressler@nfi.org).  New Chinese standards for aquatic products issued.  V-3, N-10, March 5, 2004.

 

March 19, 2004...Zero-Tolerance: During the week of March 15–19, 2004, John Connelly, president of the National Fisheries Institute (NFI), a fisheries trade association that is taking a new look at aquaculture, met with two delegations of aquaculturists from China.  The meetings provided an excellent opportunity for NFI to tell the Chinese that it supports a policy of zero tolerance of unauthorized antibiotics in imported aquatic products.  Source: NFInsider (a weekly newsletter that’s emailed to members of the National Fisheries Institute).  Editor, Thomas Ressler (tressler@nfi.org).  NFI stresses good aquaculture practices in meeting with Chinese aquaculture farmers.  Volume-3, Issue-12, March 19, 2004.

 

March 28, 2004...A Shot to the Foot: According to the Bangkok Post, the ASEAN Aquaculture Federation (Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Vietnam and Thailand) threatens to stop all shrimp exports to the European Union!

 

The Federation alleges that the EU's imposition of zero tolerance for two antibiotics, chloramphenicol and nitrofuran, in farmed shrimp was made in a non-transparent and discriminatory manner, which does not comply with international standards and could be a non-tariff barrier.  The Federation especially dislikes the clause that allows the EU to destroy any consignments containing antibiotics, unconditionally and without any avenue for appeal at the EU port of entry.  “As we are aware, under the regulations of the World Trade Organization, the importer has no authority to destroy the products of other countries without prior consent,” said a Federation statement.

 

In addition to stopping exports of shrimp to Europe, The Federation threatened to destroy all food products from Europe that tested positive for the two antibiotics, an approach adopted by China.

 

The Federation plans to hire a lawyer to file a lawsuit against the EU and its port authorities.

 

Carlos Bernejo, head of a European Union delegation to Thailand, said the EU destroys contaminated food products to make sure they never enter the food chain.  He said the zero tolerance policy was applied not only in the EU but also in the United States and Japan.  The only difference, he said, was that the EU had more sophisticated machinery that was able to detect the banned substances in very small quantities.

 

Bernejo said the EU had no objection to countries imposing stringent tests on imported products in a nondiscriminatory way.  “But if they check only products from the EU, it will not be for health protection but would simply be a non-tariff barrier.”

 

Because of the zero tolerance policy, Thailand’s shrimp exports to the EU dropped to 6,000 tons in 2002, from 14,000 tons in 2001.  Source: The Wave (page ??).  Asian shrimp trade group calls for EU boycott.  March 28, 2004.

 

April 12, 2004...FDA Looking for Chloramphenicol: During the week of April 5–9, 2004, the United States Food and Drug Administration directed all field personnel to detain shipments of raw shrimp from the Saota Seafood Factory in Vietnam because chloramphenicol was detected in the company’s shrimp.

 

On April 8, 2004, FDA revised Import Alert #16-124, urging inspectors to be on the lookout for shrimp containing traces of the banned antibiotic chloramphenicol.

 

So far this year, five firms have been added to Import Alert #16-124, increasing the total number of firms that are liable to have shrimp detained to 13.  Those firms are in Brazil, China, Malaysia, Peru, Thailand and Vietnam.  Source: The Wave (an online fisheries news service).  FDA finds more chloramphenicol in shrimp.  Dan McGovern (email john@thewaveonline.com, webpage http://www.thewaveonline.com).  April 12, 2004.

 

April 17, 2004...Flood of Antibiotic Loaded Vannamei Headed for Australia: Shrimp farmers in the state of Queensland say a flood of Asian Penaeus vannamei may be headed for Australia because of the pending dumping action in the United States and because of strict antibiotic regulations in the rest of the world.  Since October 2003, the Australian Customs Service has tested 56 batches of vannamei for nitrofurans.  Five batches failed and were refused entry.  Source: The Courier-Mail (newspaper, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia).  Tainted imported prawn warning (http://www.thecouriermail.news.com.au/common/story_page/0,5936,9297531%255E3102,00.html).  Michael Madigan (madiganm@qnp.newsltd.com.au).  April 17, 2004.

 

April 24, 2004...China: On April 24, 2004, I interviewed (via telephone) Dr. Rod McNeil, a shrimp farming consultant and director of research and development at Meridian Aquatic Technologies, which produces AquaMats®, artificial substrates for shrimp hatcheries and farms.  McNeil just returned from China.

 

Shrimp News: How is China reacting to the antibiotic issue?

 

Rod McNeil: About two-and-a-half years ago, when the antibiotic issue first hit, the government came down really hard on distributors of chloramphenicol.  They just shut them down, saying “no more chloramphenicol.”  Before that you could go into any feed store and buy it by the kilo.  Antibiotics were unbelievably available, over-the-counter, no prescription required, as much as you wanted.  About six months after banning chloramphenicol, the government modified all its extension practices to eliminate the use of all antibiotics from growout shrimp farming.  I have not seen the use of any antibiotics in Chinese shrimp farming for at least a year now—I mean at all!

 

Shrimp News: I want to get this straight.  In places where antibiotic use was rampant in the past, you have observed no antibiotic use at all?

 

Rod McNeil: That’s correct.

 

Shrimp News: But how can that be?  Chinese farmed shrimp with traces of antibiotics are still turning up here and there.

 

Rod McNeil: The Chinese are bewildered by this because they really don’t know where the antibiotics are coming from.  Could there be residues in the containers that the shrimp are shipped in?  Could there be antibiotics in the ice?  Are the antibiotics being produced by a bacteria?  Are the antibiotics in the water withdrawn from the ocean?  What the heck is going on here?  One farm where I have worked was “caught” by the European Union with a shipment of shrimp contaminated with chloramphenicol.  The farmer had never used chloramphenicol, even in the hatcheries on his farm.  He does use several herbal preparations, such as tea leaves and garlic early in growout, and he is also wondering if these could be the source of chloramphenicol.  It’s a new facility that came online after the ban on chloramphenicol, and the farmer is truly puzzled by the outcome.

 

At the Guangdong Fisheries Research Institute, the government has begun an aggressive research program to determine where the antibiotics are coming from.  The government does not think they are coming from shrimp farms, and it is determined to find out where they are coming from.  Watch for a document from the Chinese Government on this.  It will be thorough and complete and a real eye-opener.  Information: Roderick McNeil, Meridian Aquatic Technology, LLC, 303 Kerr Dam Road, P.O. Box 876, Polson, MT USA 59860 (phone 406-883-6921, fax 406-883-8592, email mcneilrj@digisys.net, webpage www.aquamats.com).  Source: Shrimp News Interview.  Dr. Roderick McNeil.  April 24, 2004.

 

May 13, 2004...China: On May 13, 2004, I interviewed Henry Clifford, technical director at Shrimp Improvements Systems, a hatchery and broodstock facility in Florida, USA, that is developing genetically improved strains of Penaeus vannamei.  Henry had just returned from a trip to China and said:

 

At the hatchery in southern China that I visited, I saw a substantial number of commercial chemotherapeutic products (for example, antibiotics and anti-viral compounds) inside the hatchery, and it would appear that this hatchery was substituting chemotherapeutics for more "holistic" disease management, and compensating by medicating the larval tanks with a wide variety of chemicals.

 

Shrimp News asked Clifford if the parts-per-billion levels of antibiotics that are showing up in Chinese farmed shrimp could be leftover traces of antibiotics that were used during the hatchery phase of raising the shrimp?

 

Clifford said: At first I did not think it was possible, but when you consider that the levels of detection for some of the key antibiotics have fallen to around 300 parts per trillion, in theory any trace residue of the antibiotic or its breakdown byproducts carrying over in the shrimp's tissue from larval stages could be detectable.  Information: Henry Clifford, Shrimp Improvement Systems, Inc., 88005 Overseas Highway, No. 10-166, Islamorada, Florida, 33036 USA (phone 619-840-4808, fax 305-852-0874, email hcclifford@aol.com).  Source: Shrimp News interviews Henry Clifford.  May 13, 2004.

 

May 17, 2004...Philippines: The European Union has returned at least nine containers of shrimp to the Philippines because the shrimp contained antibiotics.  The containers originated in China and were transshipped through the Philippines because the Philippines has a better record with the EU when it comes to aquatic exports.

 

Colonel Danilo Servando, spokesman for the Philippine National Anti-smuggling Task Force, said the shipment was part of 60 containers from Ningbo, China, which illegally arrived in Manila between March and July 2003, enroute to Hamburg, Germany.  Servando said an anomaly "made the shipment appear to originate from the Philippines and not from China, which is why the containers were returned to the Philippines."  He said the smugglers made it appear that the shipment originated from the Philippines by storing it at the Port of Manila for a long time.  Source: ABS-CBN Interactive (newspaper, Philippines).  E.U. returns toxic shrimp to Manila (http://www.abs-cbnnews.com/NewsStory.aspx?section=NATIONAL&oid=51124).  Fernan Marasigan.  May 17, 2004.

 

May 17, 2004...Malaysia and Indonesia: The European Commission has reported finding chloramphenicol in shrimp from Malaysia and Indonesia and nitrofurans in shrimp from India.  In addition, Vibrio parahemolyticus was found in head-on tiger shrimp from Malaysia.  Source: The Wave (an online, fee-based, fisheries news service).  EC catches listeria, chloramphenicol in seafood.  John Fiorillo, vice president of online media (phone 206-282-3474, email john@thewaveonline.com, webpage http://www.thewaveonline.com).  May 17, 2004.

 

May 22, 2004...How Do We Mask Antibiotics?: Some Australian shrimp fishermen and shrimp farmers are beginning to call Penaeus vannamei the “cockroach of the sea” because imports of it are flooding the country and contributed to lower shrimp prices—50% lower in some cases!

 

Dr. Nigel Preston, one of Australia’s leading aquaculture research scientists, said, “Back in 2001 there was hardly a vannamei to be seen in Asia.  In 2002 it rose to 27 percent of production and in 2003 it was 38 percent of Asian production.”

 

In December 2003, Australia began testing imported vannamei for a single class of antibiotics, nitrofurans, and seven out of 109 consignments were rejected because of contamination.

 

Antibiotic use is so entrenched in the Asian shrimp farming industry that Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO) has even been asked to help cover up its use.  “We've had visits by people from China and India (who run shrimp farms) who ask do you have some science that can help us mask antibiotics,” Dr. Preston said.  All antibiotics are banned at shrimp farms in Australia.

 

Although Australian testing is limited to nitrofurans, Dr. Preston said there was no reason to suspect it was the only antibiotic used.  “You can quite easily go to a website and find suppliers of antibiotics to the aquaculture industry.  You could have half a dozen types of antibiotics knowingly being used in those regions.”

 

Vannamei has been welcomed by Australia shrimp importers, and imports have surged by more than 50 percent so far this year.  Retail chains have made a killing—taking advantage of lax labeling controls to sell the vannamei without correctly identifying it as an imported product.  In November and December alone more than 5 million kilograms of shrimp were imported.  Source: Growfish (Gippsland Aquaculture Industry Network, Inc.).  Prawn cocktail ready to explode (http://www.growfish.com.au/content.asp?ContentId=1699).  Andrew Stevenson.  May 22, 2004.

 

July 16, 2004...China Clean: On July 16, 2004, according to the Associated Press, the European Union agreed to ease import restrictions imposed on Chinese shrimp in recognition of "significant improvements" in Chinese veterinary standards.  "China has put in place a range of corrective measures which were verified by inspectors from the EU's Food and Veterinary Office," said a statement from the European Commission.  China will test all shrimp exports and issue sanitary certificates that comply with EU requirements.  Source: The Seattle Post-Intelligencer (newspaper, Seattle, Washington, USA).  EU eases ban on Chinese food imports (http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/business/apbiz_story.asp?category=1310&slug=EU%20China%20Trade).  July 16, 2004.

 

August 10, 2004...NFI and FDA and Thailand: The National Fisheries Institute (a fisheries trade association) has asked the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to cooperate in a pilot program to enhance the safety of imported seafood.  If FDA agrees, the pilot program will target the use of unapproved antibiotics in shrimp.  The initial program will likely be conducted with Thailand, the largest exporter of shrimp to the USA.  Information: Robert Collette, National Fisheries Institute, 7918 Jones Branch Drive, Suite 700, McLean, VA 22102 USA (phone 703-752-8886, fax 703-752-7583, email bcollette@nfi.org, webpage http:/www.nif.org).  Source: Seafood.com (an online, fee-based, fisheries news service).  NFI proposes program to enhance testing for antibiotic residues in shrimp.  Editor and Publisher, John Sackton (phone 781-861-1441, email jsackton@seafood.com).  August 10, 2004.

 

September 1, 2004...European Union Revising Zero Tolerance Policy: A standing committee of the Health and Consumer Affairs Directorate of the EU Commission is preparing to revise its policy on antibiotics.

 

At present the EU has a zero tolerance policy for the presence of chloramphenicol and nitrofurans in shrimp imports, a policy that has caused hardships for importers and shrimp farmers.  There are three problems with the policy.  One, there are no standard tests.  A product that tests positive in one country might test negative in a neighboring country.  Two, because there is a zero tolerance for antibiotics in the EU, product that has less than 0.3 parts per billion of an antibiotic is rejected.  Three, the current EU policy requires that any product containing detectable levels of chloramphenicol or nitrofurans be destroyed on EU soil, rather than sent back to the country of origin.

 

The proposals that appear to be gaining some traction are allowing rejected product to be returned to the country of origin and eliminating the zero tolerance requirement.  Only product that tested above the standardized limit of 0.3 parts per billion for chloramphenicol and 1 part per billion for nitrofurans would be rejected.  Results below these levels would not be considered reliable.  Source: Seafood.com (an online, fee-based, fisheries news service).  EU planning changes in residue testing that will have positive impact on Asian shrimp producers.  Editor and Publisher, John Sackton (phone 781-861-1441, email jsackton@seafood.com).  September 1, 2004.

 

September 1, 2004...EU Antibiotic Windfall: Every European importer of Asian shrimp could save hundreds of thousands of dollars annually under a new proposal to harmonize tolerance levels for banned substances like chloramphenicol and nitrofurans.

 

EU’s zero tolerance policy has “had an enormous effect on the market in Europe,” said Jan Kwakman, president of the Seafood Importers and Producers Alliance, a coalition of European seafood importers formed in 2002 to fight the issue.  Under current regulations, European importers whose seafood products are found to contain chloramphenicol or nitrofurans at any level are forced to destroy the shipment, instead of shipping it back to the exporter, meaning that importers are stuck holding the bill.  On average, antibiotic issues are costing each company $243,325 per year.  “When you extrapolate that out, it’s enormous,” Kwakman said, noting that there are hundreds of companies importing Asian seafood into Europe.

 

Further, Kwakman said, several Asian countries have been virtually absent from the European market as a result of the stringent EU policies.  Thai shrimp imports were stopped for two years, he noted, and are now at three percent of what they used to be.  Vietnam’s shrimp exports to Europe dropped to almost nothing.  China was blocked outright for two years.

 

The key contingency for Kwakman’s members will be that European importers whose shipments are found to contain banned substances will be allowed in most cases to ship the products back to Asia, similar to the policy in the United States.  “That’s an important financial consideration,” said Kwakman.  “Then the responsibility is back with the exporters.  That would be a big step.”  Source: The Wave (an online, fee-based, fisheries news service).  EU importers may get solution to chloramphenicol, nitrofuran problems.  Drew Cherry.  John Fiorillo, vice president of online media (phone 206-282-3474, email john@thewaveonline.com, webpage http://www.thewaveonline.com).  September 1, 2004.

 

September 3, 2004...EU Expects a Flood of Chinese Shrimp: On August 28, 2004, the European Commission lifted its ban on Chinese shrimp.  Each shipment of Chinese shrimp to the EU will carry a declaration that it has been tested for antibiotics.

 

Jan Wolf, with Dutch frozen seafood trader Scanimex, said that his company has been eagerly awaiting the lifting of the ban.  “We’ve already an order pending in China for aquaculture products, which we placed immediately when we heard the ban was going to be lifted,” Wolf said.  Source: The Wave (an online, fee-based, fisheries news service).  EU braces for flood of Chinese seafood.  Drew Cherry, IntraFish News.  John Fiorillo, vice president of online media (phone 206-282-3474, email john@thewaveonline.com, webpage http://www.thewaveonline.com).  September 3, 2004.

 

 

September 17, 2004...Louisiana on a Mission to Find Chloramphenicol: CBS News reports: Chris Lewis is a Louisiana state inspector on a mission to find shrimp contaminated with chloramphenicol.

 

Despite the ban on chloramphenicol, it is routinely found in imported shrimp.  In Louisiana, with the most rigorous testing in the county, nine percent of all samples tested have contained chloramphenicol.  Source: CBSNEWS.Com (website).  Dangers of imported shrimp (http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2004/09/17/eveningnews/consumer/main644203.shtml).  Wyatt Andrews.  September 17, 2004.

 

September 28, 2004...Where Did All the Chloramphenicol Go: The USA Food and Drug Administration says that it is finding fewer instances of chloramphenicol in imported seafood.  “We’re continuing to sample at the same increased rate, but we are finding fewer positives right now,” an FDA spokesperson said.  “So, we hope that this is a good sign and indicative of the fact that there is less chloramphenicol out there.”

 

The last time FDA detained shrimp contaminated with chloramphenicol was July 22, 2004, when a shipment from Venezuela was rejected.  Source: The Wave (an online, fee-based, fisheries news service).  FDA says chloramphenicol-tainted seafood harder to find.  Dan McGovern (dan@thewaveonline.com).  John Fiorillo, vice president of online media (phone 206-282-3474, email john@thewaveonline.com, webpage http://www.thewaveonline.com).  September 28, 2004.

 

September 29, 2004...Alabama: Alabama’s beleaguered shrimping industry, hard hit by imports from Southeast Asia, will get $825,780 in financial assistance and disaster relief from the United States Department of Commerce.  Part of the funds will be used to establish a seafood testing program to protect consumers.  Source: Birmingham Business Journal (newspaper, Birmingham, Alabama, USA).  Alabama shrimpers to get $825,000 from feds (http://birmingham.bizjournals.com/birmingham/stories/2004/09/27/daily15.html).  September 29, 2004.

 

December 1, 2004...FDA-Nitrofuran Standards: The FDA has posted its analytical test method for nitrofuran residues to its website (http://www.cfsan.fda.gov/seafood1.html).  The method requires liquid chromatographic and mass spectrometer equipment (LC-MS-MS) and measures four metabolites (breakdown products) of the nitrofuran compounds.

 

While not posted on the FDA website, the new method can test levels down to 1.0 part per billion.

 

FDA plans to incorporate nitrofuran testing into its fiscal year 2005 field assignment (October 2004 through September 2005) on aquaculture drugs.  The revised assignment is awaiting final sign-off within the agency and is expected to be issued by the end of the year.  Nitrofuran testing will target shrimp and will be in addition to chloramphenicol testing, rather than in lieu of chloramphenicol testing.

 

NFI has some HACCP documents that outline possible options for controlling illegal drugs in the sourcing of imported products.  Contact Karen Carter, NFI's Special Programs Coordinator, for a copy at kcarter@nfi.org.  Information: Thomas Ressler, National Fisheries Institute, 7918 Jones Branch Drive, Suite 700, McLean, VA 22102 USA (phone 703-752-8891, fax 703-752-7583, email tressler@nfi.org, webpage www.nfi.org).  Source: NFI Bulletin (http://www.nfi.org/).  Subject: FDA posts nitrofuran test method (http://www.magnetmail.net/actions/email_web_version.cfm?recipient_id=3D8217268= &message_ide210&user_id=NFI).  Thomas Ressler (tressler@nfi.org).  December 1, 2004.

 

February 25, 2005...FDA-Nitrofurans and Chloramphenicol: The USA Food and Drug Administration has begun sampling shrimp for nitrofurans, taking about 8 samples per month.  FDA can test down to 1.0 part per billion, so any samples at or above that level will trigger an investigation and automatic detention.

 

From August 2003 to January 2005, FDA tested 518 shrimp samples for chloramphenicol and found that 14 (2.7%) were positive.  The positives originated from Vietnam (4), Thailand (3), China (2), India (2), Brazil (1), Peru (1) and Venezuela (1).  Information: Bob Collette, National Fisheries Institute, Vice President of Science and Technology (phone 703-752-8886, email bcollette@nfi.org).  Source: NFInsider (a weekly newsletter that’s emailed as a PDF file to members of the National Fisheries Institute).  Helping members meet business needs: FDA expands antibiotic residue testing.  Volume 4, Issue 7, February 25, 2005.  Information: Geraldine M. Thomas, Manager, Member Relations and Communications, National Fisheries Institute, 7918 Jones Branch Drive, Suite 700, McLean, VA 22102 USA (phone 703-752-8888, email gthomas@nfi.org, webpage www.nfi.org and www.aboutseafood.com).

 

March 29, 2005...China, Todd Blacher Interview: On March 29, 2005, I interviewed Todd Blacher (pronounced “blocker”), former manager of a shrimp farm and hatchery on Hainan Island in China.  Todd is headed for a new job at a tropical fish farm in Puerto Rico, USA.  Here is an excerpt from the interview that will be published in World Shrimp Farming 2005, scheduled for release in October 2005.

 

Shrimp News: Are Chinese shrimp farms and hatcheries using antibiotics?

 

Todd Blacher: There is definitely widespread use of antibiotics at hatcheries.  Having talked personally to many hatchery owners, they do not deny using antibiotics.  Some even admit that they could not produce postlarvae without the help of antibiotics.  Other hatchery managers and owners deny the use of antibiotics, but their storage areas tell a different story.  I know that many shrimp buyers are very wary of purchasing shrimp from China.  With regard to antibiotic residuals, it’s a crapshoot.  Most of the pond managers and owners will deny the use of antibiotics during growout, but some admit that they “must” use antibiotics in order to have successful production.

 

At Hainan Houston Aquaculture, we probably used antibiotics on less than 5% of the hatchery production runs, and only used antibiotics that were not restricted for imports to the first world.  The broodstock, nursery and pond production were never treated with antibiotics.  Information: Todd Blacher (email todd_blacher@hotmail.com, phone 787-844-6751, mobile 787-766-5688).  Source: Shrimp News International. Interview: Todd Blacher.  Bob Rosenberry.  March 29, 2005.

 

April 11, 2005...FDA Detains Vietnamese Shrimp: On April 11, 2005, the USA Food and Drug Administration directed all field personnel to detain shipments of shrimp from Minh Phu Seafood Corporation of Camau City, Vietnam, because it found the banned antibiotic chloramphenicol in its shrimp.  Source: The Wave (an online, fee-based, fisheries news service).  Chloramphenicol found in Vietnamese shrimp.  John Fiorillo, vice president of online media (phone 206-282-3474, email john@thewaveonline.com, webpage http://www.thewaveonline.com).  April 11, 2005.

 

April 19, 2005...Thailand, Chemical-Free Shrimp: In 2002, STC Feed Company started raising small numbers of “chemical-free” shrimp for sale to its subsidiaries.  Then, in 2003, it initiated contracts with other farmers to raise “chemical-free” shrimp.  Mr. Anek Pichetpongsa, managing director of STC, said the company had to commit to paying farmers at prices stated in the contract, even when the price of shrimp dropped.  And some farmers sold shrimp to outsiders when prices rose higher than the contract price, a violation of the contract, but the system worked.

 

STC does not reveal contract prices, but it did report that so far in 2005, it had signed three contracts:

 

1. For the delivery of 500 tons of 25/30 count per kilo shrimp in June.

 

2. For the delivery of 1,000 tons of small shrimp in June.

 

3. For delivery 500 kilos of large shrimp at a later date.

 

Additional contracts will be signed to keep output at the projected sales potential of 15,000 tons a year for export.  Source: Bangkok Post (newspaper, Bangkok, Thailand).  Organic shrimp hold promise (http://www.bangkokpost.com/Business/19Apr2005_biz61.php).  Walailak Keeratipipatpong.  April 19, 2005.

 

April 22, 2005...Thailand, Chemical-Free Shrimp: Thailand’s assertions that its white shrimp are free from toxic residues have been supported by a USA-based laboratory that failed to find any traces of chloramphenicol during recent tests.  Sitdhi Boonyaratpalin, Director General of the Thai Department of Fisheries, said the tests were conducted by Strasuburger and Siegel, Inc. (http://www.sas-labs.com), on February 28, 2005.  Source: MCOT.ORG (a global television network).  International lab shows no residues in Thai white prawns (http://www.mcot.org/query.php?nid=37844).  TNA--E006.  April 22, 2005.

 

May 4, 2005...Japan Rejects Indian Shrimp: During the week of April 24-30, 2005, Japan rejected around 28 containers of Indian shrimp because antibiotics were detected in the shrimp, 85% of it from the state of Andhra Pradesh.  Source: Business Standard (newspaper, India).  Japan rejects 28 shrimp containers from India (http://www.business-standard.com/smartinvestor/storypage.php?leftnm=lmnu6&leftindx=6&lselect=10&chklogin=N&autono=187875).  VDS Rama Raju.  May 04, 2005.

 

May 5, 2005...India, Antibiotics Found in Macrobrachium rosenbergii: During the last week of April 2005, the United Kingdom reported to the European Commission that it found nitrofuran metabolites in frozen prawns (Macrobrachium rosenbergii) from Bangladesh.  Source: The Wave (an online, fee-based, fisheries news service).  UK catches several nitrofuran-tainted shrimp shipments.  John Fiorillo, vice president of online media (phone 206-282-3474, email john@thewaveonline.com, webpage http://www.thewaveonline.com).  May 5, 2005.

 

May 6, 2005...Japan, Random Antibiotic Checks: The Health Ministry has started random, antibiotic checks of all imported, farm-raised shrimp!  It will concentrate on ntirofurans and their metabolites.

 

The Ministry will check all shrimp from India and all shipments from India must be accompanied with a certificate from a government-approved laboratory saying that the shrimp has been tested for antibiotics!  Source: Asian Times (online news covering Southeast Asia). India-Singapore pact still faces obstacles (http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Southeast_Asia/GE06Ae02.html).  May 6, 2005.

 

May 9, 2005...India, Antibiotics: Recently, Japan has rejected four consignments of Indian farm-raised shrimp because the shrimp contained banned antibiotics.

 

In India, four government laboratories are capable of testing for antibiotics.  That number is going to be increased to eight, and the Marine Products Export Development Authority is going to develop a national plan (based on area-by-area crop samples) for testing shrimp, especially shrimp from the state of Andhra Pradesh.  Private labs might also do some of the testing.  A.J. Tharakan, president of the Seafood Exporters Association of India, said the details of the tests would be published.  Source: Federal Express (newspapers, Bombay, India, net edition).  Shrimp exporters, MPEDA to take test samples from farms (http://www.financialexpress.com/fe_full_story.php?content_id=90369).  AJAYAN.  May 9, 2005.

 

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