EU gets tough on shrimp antibiotic residues

The Fish Site
by The Fish Site
7 February 2007, at 12:00am

KOCHI, INDIA - The European Union has taken a tough stance on antibiotic residue in shrimp consignments and has made it clear that it will no longer permit re-export of contaminated consignments. The move comes at a time when EU has emerged as the biggest market for India, accounting for nearly 30% of the exports.

Exporters here said that earlier consignments containing residues of antibiotic ‘chloramphenicol’ or ‘nitrofuran’ were allowed to be brought back to the country, though after a lot of pressure. However, they refused to divulge as what was done with the consignments brought back. Sources said these found their way into the domestic market.

According to EU, for many antibiotics it was possible to define a limit below which food containing such residues could be considered safe. But in the case of chloramphenicol and nitrofurans, which were not dose-related, were considered potentially harmful at any level. And so a limit of 0.3 ppb (parts per billion) for chloramphenicol and 1 ppb for nitrofuran had been fixed.

For chloramphenicol the risk could be fatal, irreversible anaemia in certain susceptible individuals and for nitrofurans the risk was that it could cause damage to genes, which can then lead to the development of cancer later.

The EU legislation prohibited re-exports of unsafe food leaving it with the only option of destroying the consignment. All costs associated with destruction would have to be borne by the importer or his representative.

Source: The Financial Express