The U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) has released information regarding entry line refusals for first month of 2017. In total, 8 of the 145 (5.5%) entry line refusals in January were of shrimp for reasons related to banned antibiotics.
The total number of entry line rejections in January was the highest in a month since August of last year. The eight shrimp entry lines refused by the FDA for banned antibiotics in January were from Thailand, Vietnam, and China and were reported by three different FDA districts:
- Narong Seafood Co., Ltd. (Thailand), a company that has been listed on Import Alert 16-129 for nitrofurans in its shrimp since June 13, 2016, had a total of five entry lines refused for shrimp products contaminated with nitrofurans and veterinary drug residues in the New England District – three of “shrimp and prawns,” one of “shrimp chow mein dinners, mixed fishery/seafood products,” and one of “stuffed pasta with shrimp (N.E.C.), mixed fishery/seafood products;
- Minh Phu Seafood Corporation (Vietnam), a company not currently listed on Import Alerts 16-124, 16-127, or 16-129, had one entry line refused for shrimp contaminated with veterinary drug residues in the Los Angeles District;
- Ca Mau Seafood Processing & Service Joint Stock (Vietnam), a company that has been listed on Import Alert 16-124 for enrofloxacin in its shrimp since December 8, 2016, had one entry line refused for shrimp contaminated with veterinary drug residues in the New York District; and
- Jiachang Aquatic Product Co. Ltd. (China), a company that has not been exempted from Import Alert 16-131, had one entry line refused for “seafood salad (shrimp, crab, etc.), mixed fishery/seafood products” contaminated with veterinary drug residues in the Los Angeles District.
The number of entry lines reported as refused in January for Thai-origin shrimp is extremely unusual. Prior to last month, since 2002 the public information available indicates that there have been a total of just 17 entry lines of shrimp refused from Thailand for reasons related to banned antibiotics. Fifteen of those seventeen refusals took place in 2003. In other words, in the thirteen years between 2004 and 2016, just two entry lines of shrimp from Thailand were refused by the FDA for reasons related to banned antibiotics.
All five entry line refusals were of shrimp products shipped from Narong Seafood Co., Ltd. As the Southern Shrimp Alliance has previously noted, Narong Seafood Company (BAP: P10456) has been certified under the Global Aquaculture Alliance’s (GAA) Best Aquaculture Practices (BAP) program as a one-star shrimp processing plant. Currently, the GAA’s website indicates that Narong Seafood Company’s BAP certification is valid until April 20, 2017.
The GAA previously reported making an unannounced audit of Narong Seafood Company’s processing plant in Samutsakorn, Thailand in June 2013 to investigate allegations made in a report published by Warehouse Workers United and the International Labor Rights Forum alleging the mistreatment of workers. The GAA explained that its auditors “found no evidence at the time of the audit substantiating the severe allegations” in the report. The GAA also explained that it had found “a number of non-conformities in the plant” but that these were not determined to be systematic in nature and that the “BAP program requires that all certified facilities correct any deficiencies and provide objective evidence verifying this in order to maintain BAP certification.”
The year previous, Narong Seafood Company, Ltd. had been in the news after it was announced in October 2012 that the company had reached a settlement with the Attorney General of the state of Massachusetts in response to the Attorney General’s allegation that the Thai company was “illegally using pirated software without paying the appropriate licensing fees . . . .”
The entry line refusals for shrimp products shipped by Narong Seafood Co., Ltd. for reasons related to banned antibiotics are another unusual development for any Thai company.