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Today's Seafood Special: Pig Manure, Antibiotics, and Diarrhea Bugs

Health & Wellness  (tags: abuse, americans, cancer, children, diet, disease, ethics, food, health, illness, investigation, prevention, protection, research, risks, safety, science, society, warning )

- 1943 days ago -
You're very likely eating imported seafood raised on a factory-style farm in Asia--and it almost certainly was never inspected by the Food and Drug Administration on its way into the country and onto your plate.

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Kit B (276)
Wednesday January 23, 2013, 7:07 am
(Illustration: Gary Taxali)

Next time you tuck into a Red Lobster "Endless Shrimp" special or score some $7-per-pound salmon at a supermarket, consider this: You're very likely eating imported seafood raised on a factory-style farm in Asia—and it almost certainly was never inspected by the Food and Drug Administration on its way into the country and onto your plate.

Is Big retailers like Walmart and restaurant chains like Darden (owner of Red Lobster) say yes, in part because some of the seafood they buy bears the Best Aquaculture Practices label. Who issues that label? The Global Aquaculture Alliance, an industry endeavor—its board consists of representatives from (you guessed it) Darden, as well as Cargill, the Chilean salmon industry, and a large farmed-shrimp importer called Eastern Fish Company. Not surprisingly, BAP standards for farmed fish placed near the bottom (16 of 20) in a 2012 ranking of aquaculture labels by the University of Victoria's Seafood Ecology Research Group. (Darden says it independently tests its shrimp for contaminants but declined to share its results; Walmart did not answer our questions about inspections.)

But the responsibility for ensuring the safety of our food doesn't fall to retailers and restaurants alone. The oversight authority belongs to the FDA, and the task is massive. In 2011, Americans consumed 4.7 billion pounds of seafood, 91 percent of which was imported. And yet the FDA only inspects a tiny amount of this giant haul: 2 percent at most. (The equivalent agency in Canada inspects 15 percent of imported seafood; in the European Union the figure is 50 percent.)

That's worrisome because imported seafood has a spotty track record. According to a recent study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 44 percent of the 39 foodborne-illness outbreaks caused by imports from 2005 to 2010 involved seafood—more than any other type of food.

And then there's the drug problem. Like US meat farms, Asia's shrimp operations rely heavily on antibiotics to control diseases among creatures packed tightly together, and also to make them grow faster. That creates the risk of antibiotic-resistant pathogens in the final product. In a 2012 study, FDA scientists tested 330 samples of shrimp farmed in Thailand—the No. 1 US shrimp supplier—and bought in Little Rock, Arkansas, supermarkets. Sixty-seven turned up positive for strains of the bacteria klebsiella that are resistant to a range of antibiotics—32 of them showed resistance to no fewer than eight different antibiotics. The researchers concluded that "imported shrimp is a reservoir for multidrug-resistant Klebsiella," which can trigger urinary-tract infections and pneumonia.

And it's not just nasty bugs that can end up in our seafood. Testifying before Congress in 2008, Don Kraemer, then-deputy director of the FDA's Office of Food Safety, warned of "clear scientific evidence" that drug residues make it into the fish we eat. In 2011, the FDA tested just 0.1 percent of imported seafood products for drug traces. In 2008, the agency tested only 34 shrimp samples for residues of nitrofurans—a class of antibiotics banned because they're carcinogenic. Six samples tested positive.

The FDA does inspect processing facilities in exporting countries, the most prolific of which are China, Thailand, Canada, Vietnam, Indonesia, and Ecuador. But here, too, the program is lax. According to a scathing 2011 report by the Government Accountability Office, the agency had inspected just 1.5 percent of seafood processing facilities in the previous six years in China, the source of nearly a quarter of US seafood imports. Meanwhile, in Vietnam, a Bloomberg Businessweek investigation discovered that some US-bound shrimp are stored in heaps of ice made from water teeming with bacteria. And tilapia in a growing number of China's fish farms literally feed on pig manure—even though it contains salmonella and makes the fish vulnerable to disease.

In an October letter to the FDA, the Southern Shrimp Alliance, a trade group for the US wild-caught shrimp industry, identified three Vietnamese shrimp processors that were ordered to put their products through mandatory testing in Canada after authorities there found traces of fluoroquinolones, a banned antibiotic. Yet all three can still export freely to the United States. Another major Vietnamese shrimp supplier to the US, Soc Trang Seafood Joint Stock Company (which, incidentally, is BAP-certified), had three different shipments turned back by Japan in 2012 due to the presence of banned chemicals—but the United States routinely welcomed its products.

Since I don't have much faith in either the industry's self-certifying effort or the FDA's porous testing program, I've taken to eating shrimp only as an occasional treat. When I do indulge, I pay up for the wild-caught kind. But it shouldn't be left to each of us to protect ourselves. Just as the government inspects Red Lobster's kitchens, so too should the FDA scrutinize the suppliers that keep them stocked with endless shrimp.
****links within article at VISIT SITE****

By Tom Philtpott | Mother Jones |

Pat B (356)
Wednesday January 23, 2013, 7:18 am
Ummm...sound yummy, Kit. On a serious note, I can't, don't, and won't eat fish. I can't, I get a serious reaction to shellfish and the like. I am trying very hard to NOT eat meat either, (new year's resolution). Good information in this article. Thanks so much, Ms. Kit.

Arielle S (313)
Wednesday January 23, 2013, 8:50 am
Bleh - Tilapia, which is native to Africa, is just about all farmed raised and isn't even that good for you as it is low in the stuff that makes fish a healthy food. I've never seen "wild-caught" tilapia anywhere which means restaurants are probably all serving farm-raised. But then, that's probably true for most all seafood now. Wild-caught or not at all!

Kit B (276)
Wednesday January 23, 2013, 9:11 am

Preservatives, flavor enhancers, Genetic Modifications, farm raised in highly polluter water or seafood filled with Mercury, it's clear that we need to stop buying the stuff as food.

Sue H (7)
Wednesday January 23, 2013, 11:15 am
This is such a sorry statement about the lack of respect our "government" has for it's citizens. Why is filthy seafood being allowed into our country without inspection?????

Carrie B (306)
Wednesday January 23, 2013, 1:23 pm
Oh Yuck!

Nancy M (197)
Wednesday January 23, 2013, 2:48 pm
Luckily stores in my area do get wild-caught fish. It costs more. But overall, not at all surprised.

Thanks Kit.

Faye Swan (23)
Wednesday January 23, 2013, 3:51 pm
Glad I live in Scotland - fresh fish!

Tamara Hayes (185)
Wednesday January 23, 2013, 4:34 pm
"Is that Big retailers like Walmart and restaurant chains like Darden (owner of Red Lobster) say yes, in part because some of the seafood they buy bears the Best Aquaculture Practices label. Who issues that label? The Global Aquaculture Alliance"
Global Aquaculture Alliance just happens to be the guilty party behind the Frankenfish. This is not new news but it is, however, very frightening

Julie E (405)
Wednesday January 23, 2013, 4:47 pm
The topic made me want to gag. Thanks Kit!

Past Member (0)
Wednesday January 23, 2013, 4:51 pm
Just absolutely disgusting,but not at all surprised. Seriously this news cannot come as a shock,just take a look at the meat industry and how truly appalling that situation is. Imagine our population in 20 years...what will evolve???? I gotta say i'm running low on faith. Think i'll be sticking to my veggies and fruits which neither is imported from China.

pam w (139)
Wednesday January 23, 2013, 4:55 pm
Thanks a LOT kit! :-)

The truth is this....even "wild caught" shellfish and fish eat manure of other animals. Ever seen crabs eating the eyes of dead seals?

It's how they live.

Laurie H (817)
Wednesday January 23, 2013, 6:00 pm
Very Unappetizing!!!!! I suppose nothing should surprise me these days. Just another example of many reasons why I love being veg!!! Thanks my friend!!!!~

Sherry Coleman (71)
Wednesday January 23, 2013, 6:39 pm
better buy fresh at your local farmer or fish markets

Heidi Aubrey (16)
Wednesday January 23, 2013, 11:19 pm
I absolutely Do Not understand why people eat Tilapia(Carp) with some weird notion that its good for them.

I is the worst meat(animal muscle) product one could possibley consume. Far worse than Beef, Pork, Chicken, or any other farmed fish even shrimp from asia.

It disgusts me beyond measure, its literally like eating foul, rancid garbage and somehow think you are doing a "good" thing for yourself.

There are NO Essnential Fatty Acids, ZERO. NO omega 3 of any shape, form or kind whatsoever ! With the added bonus of "you are what you eat" complete crap-literally.

Sam E M (0)
Thursday January 24, 2013, 5:38 am
Ugh! This isn't green food, it's food that turns your face to a green hue instead.
Stop buying it. Better safe than sorry.

paul m (93)
Thursday January 24, 2013, 6:04 am


jan b (5)
Thursday January 24, 2013, 6:58 am
My grandparents conducted what could be labeled "organic" farming but they used chicken manure....or cow manure. I know for a fact that roses love garbage.
I don't know what to think about all this info coming out about our veges --fish--beef--chicken. It sounds pretty disgusting but maybe it's the natural way...of nature.
Your comments are appreciated and interesting though except they still leave me wondering.

Bruno Moreira (61)
Thursday January 24, 2013, 8:34 am

Terrie Williams (798)
Thursday January 24, 2013, 11:50 am's food for thought...LOL yeah, pun intended....most all bottom feeding shellfish and/or fish (thiink flounder, etc) eat excrement and/or dead/decomposing fish flesh. That is the way of things. Now, if you really want to get technical....even plants thrive on MANURE and decaying plant matter/animal matter. It has to do with the cycle of life. If we all really thought about this stuff in depth....we would all be starving ourselves to litteral death. That said, thre are better chouces we can make and not eating Tilapia is one of them...they have little to no nutritional value....but they are plentiful and cheap...(a Fascist dream for how to get rid the poor). Same with factory farmed anything. We do not have to eat this GMO/hyper-medicated/abused) flesh oir produce. We all know that by now. Might cost a tab more but in the long run you are heathier and you eat less.

Wild caught isn't always best either. I refuse to eat anything out of the Gulf of Mexico and peobably never will again in my lifetime. If I can get wild caught from the Pacific I buy it, but, most of the time, if I want shellfish, I go with farm raised and it isn't that often.

Kit B (276)
Thursday January 24, 2013, 12:12 pm

Yes, some seafood does eat any form of excretions. Before now ( almost 30 years) we did have a functioning FDA to inspect that seafood was exactly what it purported to be, and not some trash fish. People can make an informed choice when they decide to eat seafood, if they know that it is inspected.

marie C (163)
Thursday January 24, 2013, 4:24 pm
Oh Yuk
In UK it was reported fish was found to have lumps of plastic in their stomachs recently
Thanks Kit Better we leave it out
I have been allergic to lobster for years

Past Member (0)
Thursday January 24, 2013, 6:14 pm

Claudia O (73)
Thursday January 24, 2013, 6:42 pm
Become vegan.

Ruth C (87)
Friday January 25, 2013, 7:54 am
Vegan is the way to go.

Michela M (3964)
Friday January 25, 2013, 1:27 pm

Michela M (3964)
Friday January 25, 2013, 5:02 pm

Thanks! Posted in:  ORANGUTANS: Men of the Forest
in:  HEALTHY Eating: 18 Pet.
Please Join & Invite friends to Join
ORANGUTANS: Men of the Forest
together with Sumatran Tigers (Java & Bali Tigers already EXTINCT), Elephants, Rhinos, Clouded Leopards, Sun Bears, Wildlife, Biodiversity they face Extinction!! Only 300 Sumatran Tigers left on Earth!!! 300 Football Fields of Rainforests are CLEARED every hour in SE Asia to produce Palm Oil: a hidden, not labelled, unhealthy ingredient in the products we buy. We MUST do WHATEVER is possible to SAVE them all!! AGAINST: Corporate Control, Deforestation, Illegal Logging, Global Warming, Pollution, CO2Emissions, Indigenous Peoples Displacement, Pet Trade, GMO Food, Vivisection… Also other Primates, as Chimpanzees, Gorillas, Gibbons, & Monkeys for Vivisection are dealt in this Group. Petitions/Info/Videos/Pics are here.
Please!! Join, Sign, Invite friends to Join!! Individually: we are one DROP, all together: we are an OCEAN!! ALL together we can make a difference!! Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world -Margaret Mead Thanks!! Michela

Solitary E (324)
Saturday January 26, 2013, 7:16 am
Thank the universe in her infinite wisdom for providing us with plant foods.

Elvira Escamilla Davila (60)
Saturday November 23, 2013, 6:11 am
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