The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (“FDA”) recently reported that in October 2014 the agency refused a total of 101 entry lines of seafood. Of these refusals, 35 of the refusals were of entry lines of shrimp due to antibiotic contamination.
Based on an analysis of FDA refusal data by the Southern Shrimp Alliance, the number of shrimp entry lines refused in October for antibiotic contamination was the largest since January of 2011. In that month, the FDA refused 42 total entry lines of shrimp contaminated by antibiotics, of which 39 were from China.
The large number of refusals last month reflects a significant increase in FDA regulatory actions to address the continuing problem of banned antibiotics in imported shrimp. Since 2011, the FDA has reported refusing more than 25 entry lines of shrimp contaminated with banned antibiotics in a single month only five times, with three of those months occurring this year: January 2011 (42); February 2011 (28); June 2014 (26); July 2014 (31); and October 2014 (35).
As shown in the table below, through October, the FDA has already refused more entry lines of shrimp contaminated with antibiotics than in all of 2012 and 2013 combined.
As shown in the table below, the decline in FDA refusals of antibiotic-contaminated shrimp entry lines between 2011 and 2012 coincided with a significant decline in overall non-breaded, frozen shrimp import volumes. However, FDA refusals increased significantly between 2012 and 2013 despite a further slight decline in overall import volumes. And this year, while import volumes have grown 14% through September of this year compared to shrimp imported in the first three quarters of 2013, the number of FDA refusals has more than doubled.
The most significant factor in the FDA’s increased refusals has been shipments of shrimp from Malaysia and Vietnam. Combined, shipments of shrimp from these two countries accounted for 114 of the 150 refusals. These results are consistent with the four year trend of increasing refusals of shrimp with banned antibiotics from both countries since 2011.
In October, 22 of the 35 entry lines refused for antibiotic contamination were of Malaysian shrimp, while 5 of the remaining 13 were of Vietnamese shrimp. These refusals involved three different Malaysian shippers – Hong San Frozen Foods; Double Memory; and Sunlight Seafood – and two different Vietnamese shippers – Ngoc Tri and Hoang Phuong.
In addition to refusals of Vietnamese and Malaysian shrimp, the FDA also reported refusing another four shipments of antibiotic-contaminated shrimp from India as well as three shipments of Chinese shrimp from Zhanjiang Guolian.
The October refusals were determinations made by FDA offices across the country, with the individual reports issued by the agency identifying regional office action in New England (Stoneham, MA), New York, Florida (Maitland), Atlanta, Houston, Los Angeles, and San Francisco.