The United States Department of Health and Human Services’ Food and Drug Administration (FDA), announced on 18 Apr that its District Offices may detain, without physical examination, imports of shrimp and prawns from peninsular Malaysia due to testing that found that approximately one-third of imports from peninsular Malaysia contained residues of Nitrofurans and/or Chloramphenicol. This has raised the food safety alarm within our country, and has made us wonder if the dinner served on our table is safe for consumption. The choice between wild caught shrimp and farmed shrimp, let us breakdown the top 5 reasons why Wild-caught Shrimp is better.
1. Filthy farming
Farmed shrimp comes in a neatly packed bag, with a tagline of being caught, cleaned and chosen with extreme care and precision to provide you with the best seafood experience in the comforts of your home. As cozy and healthy that sounds, you might get more than you bargained for in that clear, protein filled bag. Not only the shrimps come with a plethora of antibiotics, preservatives, contaminants as well as select few parts of some other fauna that frequent the sewers, namely mice and rats. In fact, imported shrimp alone is responsible for the rejected & filthy 26 to 35 percent of all imported seafood as opposed to the wild caught fresh shrimp which ensures that what you eat is fresh, organic and at least chemical free.
2. Filthy packaging
The beautiful, fresh shrimp might not sound so appetizing when you mix the buzzing of flies and a dash of garbage and disposed seafood in the same bag. Yes, not only your shrimp needs a bath but the bath itself needs a thorough cleaning up. The Storage and processing plants do not operate at proper temperatures and shrimp is stored in ice made by unfiltered tap water. The unboiled, unfiltered water gives birth to a number of bacterial contaminations that subsequently, spread the joy to unsuspecting end-consumers. This of course, isn’t a problem when you catch and clean the shrimp yourself.
3. Farmed shrimp with a side of carcinogens
The antibiotics are not just harmful as they can give you an allergic reaction, the chronic exposure might expose you to deadly chemicals that are responsible for causing cancer. These antibiotics are banned in the United States for being known carcinogens, e.g. Nitrofurazone and chloramphenical. The said antibiotics however, are not banned in the countries where the shrimp is usually imported from and are present in levels 20-150 times above than approved by the FDA. The most common side effects of these chemicals can be aplastic anemia and leukemia.
4. Farms before forests
Mangrove forests are what protect us from floods and hurricanes. These forests are also biggest carbon dioxide absorbers and trappers than any other buffer in our environment. They provide a habitat for most of the delicacies on your seafood menu. Unfortunately, they are also usually in the way of shrimp farms on the coastlines of various countries and get destroyed in the pursuit of expansion of these farms. This leads not only to harm to overall environment but it also damages the biodiversity in the natural, rightful habitat of more than 33 species in various countries like Thailand, Ecuador, Indonesia, China, Mexico, and Vietnam.
5. Unethical farming
The imported shrimp not only exploits the environment badly, but also the manpower involved in the industry. The local shrimp farmer cannot compete with the large corporations that import shrimp to big markets. Also, with the mangrove forests damaged, the local produce is diminished in quantity and quality. The reports of human trafficking, slavery and child labor in south Asian shrimp markets is a giant red flag on the ethical and moral grounds in the shrimp industry.
All in all, we should be aware of what we eat. In fact, health-concious generations are starting to question the source of the food, the way the food is produced, and the transparency of government regulating our food industry. Food is essential to our life, so make it good.