To Begin the New Year, FDA Adds Ecuadorian and Indian Shrimp Exporters to Import Alert on Nitrofurans

Over the first two weeks of the New Year, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has added an Indian shrimp exporter, Suryamitra Exim PVT Ltd., and an Ecuadorian shrimp exporter, Propemar S.A., to Import Alert 16-129, Detention Without Physical Examination of Seafood Products Due to Nitrofurans. Through their addition to the Import Alert, the FDA authorizes port officials to detain shipments of shrimp sourced from these companies until they are demonstrated to be free from veterinary drug residues.

Suryamitra Exim last had a shipment of shrimp refused entry for veterinary drug residues in April 2017, although shrimp exported from India has continually been found to contain banned antibiotics due to failures to control the use of these substances in Indian shrimp aquaculture.

The FDA, however, has rarely refused entry of shrimp exported from Ecuador due to the presence of banned antibiotics. In fact, the last entry line of Ecuadorian shrimp to be refused by the FDA for veterinary drug residues occurred over a decade ago in October 2009. Since 2002, the FDA has reported a total of just six entry line refusals of Ecuadorian shrimp for the presence of banned antibiotics. Propemar S.A. is currently the only Ecuadorian company listed on Import Alert 16-129.

The FDA’s Import Alert explains that nitrofurans are approved for use in only very limited circumstances in the United States and only for the treatment of non-food producing animals. In February 2002, the FDA issued an order prohibiting any extra-label use of nitrofurans in food-producing animals. This followed the 1991 withdrawal of the agency’s approval for several animal nitrofuran products because of concerns regarding the carcinogenicity of the veterinary drug. As the FDA observes, “Nitrofurazone, one of the nitrofurans, has been shown to produce mammary tumors in rats and ovarian tumors in mice.” If consumed, “nitrofuran residues are absorbed by the consumer’s body and again form tissue-bound residues. Since the compound is considered carcinogenic and genotoxic, consumption over time of product contaminated with nitrofurans may present a human health risk.” In addition, certain individuals “may be hypersensitive” to the presence of nitrofurans in food products.

The FDA’s Import Alerts on fishery and seafood products may be reviewed here: https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/cms_ia/industry_16.html

Import Alert 16-129, “Detention Without Physical Examination of Seafood Products Due to Nitrofurans,” as of January 12, 2023 can be accessed here:  https://www.shrimpalliance.com/wp-content/uploads/2023/01/Import-Alert-16-129-January-12-2023.pdf

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