• Decrease font size
  • Return font size to normal
  • Increase font size
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Animal & Veterinary

  • Print
  • Share
  • E-mail


FDA Veterinarian Newsletter 2002 Volume XVI, No IV

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently announced that it will be increasing the sampling of imported shrimp and crayfish (also known as crawfish) for the presence of chloramphenicol. FDA is taking this action because low levels of chloramphenicol have been detected by some states and other countries in imported shrimp and crayfish.

"The FDA is concerned about any detection of chloramphenicol in shrimp and crayfish," said Dr. Lester M. Crawford, FDA Deputy Commissioner." The Agency will take whatever action is necessary to protect the public health."

The Center for Veterinary Medicine has played an integral role in responding to the discovery by the European Union (EU) and Canada of chloramphenicol in imported honey and shrimp from China. The Center is working with FDA's Office of Regulatory Affairs (ORA) and Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition (CFSAN) to prevent honey and shrimp contaminated with chloramphenicol from entering the U.S.

Scientists at CVM's Office of Research are investigating new approaches for the detection of chloramphenicol in honey and shrimp. Part of the effort involves the evaluation of a commercially available rapid screening kit for chloramphenicol. The manufacturer recently improved the kit to be able to detect 0.3 parts per billion (ppb) in honey and 0.15 ppb in shrimp. The screening kit will be used to determine which samples likely contain chloramphenicol and require additional testing.

The methods used to confirm the presence of chloramphenicol in shrimp and honey are also being evaluated and validated. Using sophisticated liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry techniques, Office of Research scientists are testing methods that can confirm the presence of chloramphenicol at concentrations of 0.1 ppb. When these evaluations have been successfully completed, the validated methods will be transferred to ORA laboratories for use as part of the program to test imported products for chloramphenicol residues.

Until recently, the sensitivity of the methodology prevented the detection of chloramphenicol in shrimp below 5 ppb. Canada and the EU have refined their methods to detect even lower levels and have taken action on food products from China and Vietnam found to be contaminated by chloramphenicol.

The FDA has modified its methodology to confirm chloramphenicol levels in shrimp and crayfish to 1 ppb and is further modifying the methods to detect 0.3 ppb, which will place the U.S. methodology in line with Canada's and the EU's.

On June 5-6 2002, a senior delegation of Chinese officials met with FDA to discuss the issue of chloramphenicol residues in shrimp and crayfish. The delegation informed FDA that on March 5, 2002, China banned the use of chloramphenicol in animals and animal feeds. They also informed FDA that they are initiating testing of shrimp, crayfish, and other animal derived foods intended for export to ensure the absence of chloramphenicol and other drug residues. FDA and China exchanged information on testing methodologies. FDA informed the Chinese officials that the Agency would take enforcement action against violative product.

The FDA continues to work with other governments and state agencies to ensure the safety of the U.S. food supply.