Consumer Reports finds harmful bacteria in frozen shrimp

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Americans eat an average of almost four pounds per year of shrimp, making it more popular than tuna.

About 94 percent of the U.S. shrimp supply is imported, and the majority of it is farmed.

"Farming can be done responsibly, but when it's not, bacteria and disease can thrive. Antibiotics may seem like a fix, but we don't think so, and they're illegal for use in imported shrimp," said Urvashi Rangan, Ph.D., the director of Consumer Reports' Food Safety and Sustainability Center.

Scientists analyzed 342 packages of frozen shrimp, farmed and wild, raw and cooked. The shrimp was purchased in supermarkets in 27 cities across the country.

Overall, 60 percent of the raw shrimp samples tested positive for bacteria, so safe preparation is very important. And 11 samples, or about five percent of imported, raw, farmed shrimp, had antibiotic residues.

"The antibiotic use is particularly troubling because it's illegal, it promotes antibiotic resistance, and it just isn't a responsible way of farming," Rangan said.

Consumer Reports recommends buying responsibly sourced wild shrimp, like those recommended by Seafood Watch or certified by the Marine Stewardship Council.

If farmed shrimp are better for your budget, Consumer Reports says look for farmed shrimp certified by Naturland, the Aquaculture Stewardship Council, or Whole Foods Market Responsibly Farmed.

The Food and Drug Administration is responsible for inspecting shrimp coming into the U.S. to make sure it doesn't contain any drugs or chemicals that aren't permitted. But last year the agency examined less than four percent of foreign shrimp shipments and tested less than one percent.
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