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Shrimp farmers told to certify produce

K.A. Martin

Exporters insist on testing shrimps for antibiotic content


  • Deadline set for May 1
  • U.S. switches to European standards
  • CIFT among agencies to test samples

    KOCHI: The billion-dollar seafood industry will see another major change from May 1, with seafood exporters deciding to ask shrimp farmers across the country to produce certificates to prove that their produce do not contain banned antibiotics like nitro furan and chloramphenicol.

    The chairman of the Seafood Exporters' Association of India (SEAI), A.J. Tharakan, told The Hindu on Wednesday that the U.S. had switched to European Union standards for processed foods and was now screening food items, including shrimp from India and several other countries, for antibiotics like chloramphnenicol.

    "We have been testing export consignments for the banned substance on our own for the last one-and-half years," he said, and added that it would not be possible for exporters to test every lot from the farmers. "Hence, we are asking the farmers to test their produce for the banned substance."

    He pointed out that there were several agencies, including the Kochi-based Central Fisheries Research Institute (CIFT), approved by the Export Inspection Agency that could test samples and issue certificates.

    Indian agencies had imported at least eight sophisticated instruments for antibiotics content-testing during the last one year and this had improved the situation as far as the Indian seafood export industry was concerned, said Mr. Tharakan.

    U.S. FDA alert

    The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued a warning on imported aquaculture food from India and several other countries on "unapproved drug residues."

    The alert, posted on the FDA website said: "There has been an extensive commercialization and an increased consumption rate of aquaculture seafood products. As this industry grows, the use of unapproved new animal drugs and the misuse of approved new animal drugs in seafood raised through aquaculture also grows... " and, it went on to say, "Districts may detain without physical examination the products from the firms identified ... "

    The countries on the alert list include India although only one company, based in Orissa, has been identified. The other countries on the list are China, Malaysia, Peru, Thailand, Venezuela and Vietnam. The alert is for chloramphenicol content in imports from all these countries and the substance continues to be suspected as a carcinogen.

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