Vietnam’s Mekong Delta is suffering from its worst drought in nearly a century; which, along with salt water contamination, is severely affecting seafood production in the country (more than 81,000 hectares of shrimp breeding ponds in eight provinces have been damaged).
Vietnam currently needs around 130 billion breeding shrimp every year, but since local brood stock can meet only 40% of that demand, Vietnamese producers are injecting carboxymethyl cellulose (CMC), gelatin, and glucose to make the available shrimp weigh more.
— Daily Mail Online (@MailOnline) October 5, 2016
One of the shrimp exporters has been caught on video using 30 chemical pumps to inject each shrimp with a combination of CMC, gelatin and glucose to make it look heavier and fresher. After injecting the substance, a 1 kg shrimp weighs about 1.15-1.2 kg; a fresh looking bulky shrimp earns greater profit. The facility worker confessed on record:
Every day I buy around 30-50 kg of shrimp. After I inject the substances, I sell them to seafood export companies in Ca Mau, Vietnam. I have to do this because all local shrimp suppliers do this.
The biggest suppliers of shrimp products in Vietnam import more than 50% of their raw material for processing from other countries, such as China. Imagine the double whammy: about 100 million pounds of shrimp – or about 8% of all the shrimp Americans consume – comes from Vietnam, which gets their majority of its shrimp from China, who have an ineffective food regulation system.
After nearly $150 million worth of shrimp were imported to the USA from China between January and October 2015, the Food and Drug Administration issued an import alert on Dec. 11, 2015, about the “presence of new animals’ drugs and/or unsafe food additives” from seafood imported in China, including shrimp.
CMC — a water-soluble anionic linear polymer used in pharmaceuticals and cosmetics — can cause diarrhea, abdominal cramps, eye pain, irritation, redness or lingering vision changes. Nonetheless, the scandal of injecting shrimp with CMC as well as an industrial gel — a cheaper non-edible carcinogenic version of CMC that harms the liver and blood — has persisted; and no one seems to pay attention to its disastrous side effects. The Epoch Times writes:
“Wholesalers or retailers see the chance to increase their profits by injecting shrimp, and are willing to cheat — and possibly endanger the health of consumers — in this way. Even if retailers aren’t involved in injecting shrimp, they know when they are receiving adulterated goods from the wholesalers. But they accept them and pass them onto their customers. China’s food regulators are unable or unwilling to put a stop to all this.”
— Martin R Lopez (@martyrlopez) July 6, 2016
Infected Shrimp Approved for American Consumers
Gel-injected shrimp is not the only cause of concern for the American consumers. Farmers in Vietnam freeze the shrimp in contaminated water before it is exported to the United States. Microbiologist Mansour Samadpour claims that the water they use actually supports the development of diseases and bacteria. “Those conditions — ice made from dirty water, animals near the farms, pigs — are unacceptable.”
A 2015 study by Consumer Report also found that farmed shrimp had higher levels of dangerous bacteria, along with antibiotics.
In 16% of cooked, ready-to-eat shrimp, we found several bacteria, including vibrio and E. coli. Those bacteria can potentially cause illnesses such as food poisoning — which could include diarrhea and dehydration — and, in rare instances, can even prove fatal. In 11 samples of raw imported farmed shrimp, we detected antibiotics. And in seven raw shrimp samples (six farmed and one wild), we found MRSA — methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus, a bacteria that can cause infections that are often difficult to treat.
— Stomp Singapore (@stompsingapore) August 21, 2015
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