Earlier today, Bloomberg News published a brutal story describing visits to troubling aquaculture producers in Ca Mau, Vietnam and Yangjiang, China. In addition to a tilapia farm visited in Yangjiang, the report focuses on how shrimp is prepared for export by a Vietnamese exporter named Ngoc Sinh Seafoods:
At Ngoc Sinh Seafoods Trading & Processing Export Enterprise, a seafood exporter on Vietnam’s southern coast, workers stand on a dirty floor sorting shrimp one hot September day. There’s trash on the floor, and flies crawl over baskets of processed shrimp stacked in an unchilled room in Ca Mau.
Bloomberg News reports that since 2007, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has rejected 81 shipments of seafood from Ngoc Sinh. Ngoc Sinh has been listed on the FDA’s Import Alert 16-81 for salmonella contamination of shrimp shipments since December of 2008.
Who is Ngoc Sinh? Ngoc Sinh is a significant exporter of shrimp and fish fillets to the U.S. market. Per information available on bills of lading, the two largest recipients of Ngoc Sinh’s seafood are importers without physical addresses. These companies instead employ “drawer” addresses – generic addresses used by incorporation services as the contact address for a large number of companies. Both companies were established by the same incorporation service, and one of the two importing companies has since been dissolved.
In other words, there is no real corporate entity that would be held accountable for problems caused to U.S. consumers by Ngoc Sinh’s exports. Just importing shell companies that can easily shut down and reform should anyone come looking for answers.
Ngoc Sinh’s story is not unusual. We highlight them here because of today’s news story, but there are many other exporters that pose similar concerns – there are, in fact, over 180 Vietnamese seafood exporters currently listed on the FDA Import for salmonella. Many other seafood exporters ship to shell company importers.
Until there is a concentrated effort by regulatory agencies to cut out shady practices or until the seafood importing industry declares that enough is enough, the only tool that consumers, retailers, and restaurants have to ensure the quality of the seafood they purchase is to know their supplier. A review of the food safety history of an exporter may help explain why low prices are being offered and, where red flags are raised, ought to cause a purchaser to look elsewhere.
Read the Bloomberg News story “Asian Seafood Raised on Pig Feces Approved for U.S. Consumers”: