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Better surveillance will safeguard EU and US markets

BANGLADESH - Frozen food exporters are calling for better measures to identify the origin of two hazardous antibiotics that are known to contaminate shrimps.

Nitrofuram metabolites and Choloramphenicol are banned in most countries. The detection of these substances in shrimp has recently prompted the re-call of exported products in Bangladesh and caused huge losses to the suppliers concerned.

Exporters are now calling for the authorities to improve the skills and processes used for detecting antibiotics in fish and seafood. They also want a better infrastructure around fish processing plants.

The requests come ahead of a European Union Food and Veterinary Office (FVO) mission scheduled for Dhaka during October.

FVO officials will be inspecting hygienic compliance at every stage: from farming to processing of shrimps, to allow the continuation of imports into the EU.

Apart from visits to processing premises and assessing production techniques, the delegation is also likely to examine antibiotic testing procedures.
The Department of Fisheries (DoF) laboratory uses a liquid chromatography mass patro-photometer (LCMSMS) machine to test samples for export. The FVO is likely to suggest recognition of the tests and that the certification of all EU export licences are granted through the lab.

Increased demand
Bangladeshi shrimp has been enjoying increased demand in the European and the US markets; earning $ 456.98 million in 2006-2007 Financial Year against $403.82 million in the previous year. Shrimp export is the second largest revenue earner for the country after ready made garments.

At a meeting in August last year the Department of Fisheries (DoF) formed a residue monitoring team headed by Mokammel Hossain, director general (DG) of DoF, to investigate the contamination of shrimps. Their subsequent findings suggested that the feed and chemicals used in the production of saline water shrimps might not be the sole cause of the antibiotic contamination. Residues had also been found in prawns cultivated in fresh water, indicating that the fish may have been exposed to the chemicals from other sources.

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