Food

FDA Issues Import Alert on Imported Shrimp and Prawns from Peninsular Malaysia

Constituent Update

April 18, 2016

The FDA announced today 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.  

FDA testing in fiscal year 2015 has shown an increase in shipments of Malaysian shrimp and prawns containing residues of nitrofurans and chloramphenicol. Shrimp or prawns that contain residues of nitrofurans or chloramphenicol are adulterated and not permitted in United States commerce.

In the past, the FDA has taken steps to prevent companies with violative shipments from continuing to import shrimp and prawns containing nitrofuran and chloramphenicol residues by placing them on existing Import Alerts.  This means that the companies’ future shipments may be detained without physical examination at the port of entry and the importer may submit evidence, such as test results from a private laboratory, demonstrating that the products are free of nitrofuran and chloramphenicol residues. The agency has requested that the Malaysian government investigate the cause of the residue problem and develop a program of short-term and long-term actions to prevent the export of violative shrimp from Malaysia to the United States.

Despite Malaysia’s ban on the use of chloramphenicol and nitrofurans in seafood farm operations, the FDA has continued to find residues of these drugs in shrimp and prawns from peninsular Malaysia exported to the United States. From October 1, 2014, to September 30, 2015, the FDA tested 138 samples of shrimp and prawns from peninsular Malaysia. In all, 45 samples (32 percent) contained residues of chloramphenicol and/or nitrofurans. For that reason, FDA is today placing companies processing and/or shipping shrimp and prawns from peninsular Malaysia on Import Alert. Malaysia’s states of Sabah and Sarawak are not subject to the import alert.

Import alerts such as this one are one way that the FDA protects U.S. consumers and ensures that food is safe and wholesome. The FDA has an ongoing program to sample aquacultured food products for residues of new animal drugs not approved in the United States for use in aquacultured animals. Typically, if the FDA finds residues of unapproved new animal drugs in human food, it places the responsible foreign firm on an existing import alert targeting seafood adulterated with such residues. 

Additional information is available by accessing the Import Alert.

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