Antibiotics In Farm Raised And Wild Caught Seafood

The European Union’s recent rejection of shrimp imports from aquaculture farms in India has Louisiana Senator Mary Landrieu calling for an increase in inspection of seafood imported to the US. Currently, the FDA is able to inspect only around 2% of foreign shrimp imports. This call to action comes on the heels of an article recently featured in the Journal of Hazardous Materials, which addressed the disturbing findings of a study on antibiotics in imported shrimp.


Doctoral candidate Hansa Done and Professor Rolf Halden, of Arizona State University’s Biodesign Institute, tested 27 types of seafood from 11 countries around the world for a variety of pharmaceuticals. Perhaps not surprisingly, many samples tested positive for antibiotics, including all of the top 5 seafood imports to the US; shrimp, salmon, catfish, trout, and tilapia.

Their findings were particularly interesting in regards to shrimp, as wild-caught imports from Mexico tested positive for the antibiotic Oxytetracycline. Although the antibiotic is one of the most widely used medicines in aquaculture, its presence in wild-caught shrimp is surprising. At best, the find brings to light an accidental mis-labeling, but could indicate something as serious as cross-contamination during processing, or even the pollution of coastal waters from sewage and runoff.

While the 5 varieties of antibiotics found in imported seafood were present only in trace amounts compliant with FDA standards, researchers are calling for a change in current practices with regards to the use of pharmaceuticals in aquaculture.


Antibiotics are used to treat pathogens in farm-raised seafood, but consumption of even trace amounts can lead to the development of immunity to these preventative drugs in bacteria. According to the Infectious Diseases Society of America, antibiotic-resistant bacteria are already considered a public health threat, which sicken 2 million people annually, and lead to 23,000 deaths within the US every year. The continued use of these medicines in aquaculture will lead to even more antibiotic-resistant bacteria, rendering modern medicines ineffective.

While most foreign shrimp farms overcrowd seafood in environmentally harmful open pens susceptible to pollution, sustainable aquaculture companies, like Florida Organic Aquaculture, raise responsibly farmed, environmentally beneficial seafood. FOA’s recirculating system and strict water quality monitoring virtually eliminate the need for harmful chemical and pharmaceutical additives, while 20 individual raceways prevent the spread of disease among shrimp stocks.

Perhaps instead of increasing government spending to monitor the declining quality of imported seafood, it’s time to encourage sustainable aquaculture practices and consumption of seafood home grown in the US. To learn more about Florida Organic Aquaculture’s naturally grown Happy Healthy Shrimp, visit


Bushak, Lecia. “Antibiotics In Your Fish: Researchers Find Traces Of Antimicrobials In Seafood, Posing Concern For Resistant Bacteria.” Medical Daily. IBT Media, Inc. October 23, 2014. Web. October 2014.

“Researcher Detects Antibiotics Traces In Commercial Seafood.” Fish Info & Service Co. Ltd. October 27, 2014. Web. October 2014.

Rosenberry, Bob. “Louisiana – Senator Says To Check Indian Shrimp For Antibiotics.” Shrimp News International. October 24, 2014. Web. October 2014.