How Safe Is Imported Shrimp?

My good friend, a 93-year-old war hero has not eaten a shrimp since the 1940’s. He tells me tales of his days as an officer in the Merchant Marines during and after World War II. Jim remembers the shrimp farms of the Ganges delta and in Southeast Asia, literally swimming in raw sewage. He is so averse to shrimp that I don’t think he would even eat our local shrimp…if we had any this year.

Wild Domestic Prawns

Now, I’m not in the habit of questioning a guy who was literally blown up on two occasions during the War. The thought of imported farmed shrimp does gross me out a bit, but that has never really stopped me from eating imported or farmed shrimp. I’ll gladly eat anything someone prepares with imported shrimp, but I rarely order a shrimp dish in a restaurant. As much as I like wild shrimp, I don’t buy it all that much at the fish market either. But shrimp is crazy popular in the US and worldwide, and to meet that demand, 90% of shrimp consumed in the US is imported.

So what could you be eating? Hard to say since most of this supply does not get inspected. But what is found during inspection is scary. This investigation by Al-Jazeera English sheds some light on imported shrimp, and also shows one domestic solution to the problem:

Among fishermen and fishing families, aquaculture can sometimes be seen as a threat, both economically and ecologically. But aquaculture does not have to be done with heavy antibiotics and lots of wastewater. If we support(with our wallets) both domestic wild caught shrimp and modern domestic shrimp farms, maybe we can take a huge dent out of that 90% of imports. The shrimpers and farmers thrive and we all benefit with tastier and safer shrimp.




  1. Again the same problem, most of people choose always the same few products (so there is not enough locally, of course) and pretend cheap prices. And they ignore many other products, maybe because they cannot cook them, I don’t know.
    I also avoid shrimps in most of restaurants (unless I’m sure they have been fished locally, and in that case it will never be a “cheap” dish, at least here where I am), and if I see “farm raised” in Asian countries then I never buy too, also because I know they often use a lot of antibiotics and they destroyed a lot of original mangrove forests and rice fields, creating problems to the local populations.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Good point about the mangroves, like our local salt marshes, they are nurseries to young fish. The world wants more seafood, but has done a good job wrecking the ecosystems we need to give us this bounty.

      Liked by 1 person

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