Malaysia: US places Malaysia's shrimps on “import alert” for banned antibiotics

Malaysia seeks info on seafood alert
RAZAK AHMAD, WANI MUTHIAH, LOH FOON FONG, and TEOH XIU JONG
The Star 22 Apr 16;

PETALING JAYA: Malaysia will ask the United States’ Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for details on its move to place shrimp and prawns from peninsular Malaysia on “import alert” over the alleged presence of banned antibiotics in the seafood.

Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Shabery Cheek said the export of frozen prawns from Malaysia to the United States was arranged on a willing buyer, willing seller basis or what he described as a “private arrangement”.

He said the process did not involve appro­val or monitoring from any authority inclu­ding his ministry, the Ministry of Health (MOH) or Ministry of International Trade and Industry.

Following the incident, Ahmad Shabery said the Government had set up a special committee to control the export of prawns to the US including tightening conditions at processing plants which must be approved by MOH.

He added that his ministry would take control of issuing Certificate of Origin for prawns from the Chamber of Commerce.

On the same issue, Ahmad Shabery’s deputy Datuk Seri Tajuddin Abdul Rahman urged consumers and importers not to panic over the FDA’s alert until the ministry gets to the bottom of the matter.

“We will check the report by the US FDA and if we find it to be true, we will take necessary action to make sure exporters comply with the US government rules and stan­dards,” said Tajuddin.

The FDA on Monday announced that its District Offices might detain without physical examination imports of shrimp and prawns from peninsular Malaysia due to testing that found residues of nitrofurans and chloramphenicol.

The FDA notice said prawns and shrimp from Sabah and Sarawak were exempted from the import alert.

Banned in both Malaysia and the US for use on seafood farm operations, nitrofurans and chloramphenicol are antibiotics that help prevent disease in prawns and shrimps but are harmful for human consumption.

Malaysia is one of the top 10 exporters of prawns and shrimps to the US. According to the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the country imported 8,311 metric tonnes of shrimp from Malaysia last year.

The notice said that from Oct 1, 2014 to Sept 30, 2015, the US FDA tested 138 samples of shrimp and prawns from peninsular Malaysia.

In all, 45 samples or 32% contained residues of both substances, it said.

The notice said companies that process or ship shrimp and prawns from the peninsula would be placed on the import alert.

An aquaculture expert said there were va­rious ways prawn farmers could use to combat diseases in shrimp and prawns but some treatments were more time consuming and not as effective as using nitrofurans and chloramphenicol.

The problem with using the two banned substances is that it is difficult to determine the correct required dosage, which differs according to the extent of the bacterial infection on the prawns, size of the ponds and other factors.

As such, some end up using too much of the two substances, and their residues subsequently turn up in the prawns during testing.


Ministry probing US FDA claims
The Star 22 Apr 16;

PETALING JAYA: The Health Ministry has started investigating claims that shrimp and prawns from Malaysia contained traces of nitrofurans and chloramphenicol in shipments to the United States, said Health director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah.

“We are investigating it,” said Dr Hisham, adding that he did not want to speculate on the details yet.

“The agency has requested that the Malaysian Government investigate the cause of the residue problem and develop a programme of short-term and long-term actions to prevent the export of violative shrimp from Malaysia to the United States,” the FDA said in a statement.

Federation of Malaysian Consumers Association secretary-general Datuk Paul Selvaraj has urged the Government to put emphasis on food safety.

“More frequent tests should be conducted by the Government for the safety of the consumers,” he said.

Similar to FDA, Paul believes that the Government should also ban unsafe food for the safety of Malaysian consumers.


Shrimp and prawn farms being monitored by agencies
The Star 22 Apr 16;

KLANG: The shrimp and prawn farming standards and requirements are constantly monitored in the country by multiple government agencies.

Given this, the import alert issued by the US FDA on the shrimp and prawns from Malaysia would be looked into from an inter-departmental approach, said Selangor Fisheries Department director Azlisha Ab Aziz.

“We will collectively find out about the import alert and take the necessary mea­sures,” she said.

An industry source said the import alert was only for shrimp and prawns that were farmed and not those caught from the sea.

She said both nitrofurans and chloramphenicol were antibiotics used to combat various kinds of infections.

“The use of antibiotics in seafood farming is generally not allowed by major markets such as the United States, European Union and Japan,” she said.

But, she added, major shrimp and prawn supplying countries in Asia such as India, Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia and Vietnam, among others, had to depend on the use of these antibiotics to prevent diseases in farmed seafood.

“When such alert is made and it involves Malaysia, our authorities would generally investigate and find out who the suppliers of the consignments are and take the necessary measures,” she said, adding it could also be a false alarm.

She said the Malaysian authorities also imposed stringent guidelines on what was permissible and what was not.


Shrimps with banned substance came from neighbouring countries
NICHOLAS CHENG The Star 23 Apr 16;

KUALA LUMPUR: Local prawn farmers are livid, saying shrimp found with traces of banned antibiotics were not coming from their farms.

Rather, they are coming from neighbouring countries that are using illicit exporters and Malaysia’s certificate of origin in order to get into the United States.

Malaysian Shrimp Industry Association (MSIA) Syed Omar Syed Jaafar said that none of the 760 prawn farmers here were rearing them using antibiotics.

“We have our code of practice, we never used antibiotics. What’s happening here is the shrimp the United States is getting are from transhipments from China, Vietnam or India.

“There have been reports that shrimp from there have tested positive for the antibiotics. So recently when they were shipped to Japan they were rejected.

“So they are working together with some irresponsible traders in Malaysia; they bring their shrimp here to get the Malaysian certificate of origin and then re-export them to the US,” Syed Omar said.

This is not the first time allegations of antibiotics residue in Malaysian prawns has been brought up, he said. Farmers had raised the issue of re-exported prawns after the European Union also issued an import alert on the seafood here in 2003.

However, he claimed nothing was done to bring these illicit Malaysian traders to book.

He called on the Ministry of Agriculture and Agro-based Industries and the Fisheries Department to take over the COO approval process for seafood here.


No veterinary drugs detected in prawns, shrimp from Malaysia: AVA
Prawns found to contain veterinary drug residues such as nitrofurans and amphenicols would not be allowed to be imported or sold in Singapore, the AVA says.
Channel NewsAsia 22 Apr 16;

SINGAPORE: Veterinary drug residues such as nitrofurans and amphenicols have not been detected in prawns and shrimp imported from Malaysia, the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) said on Friday (Apr 22).

Its statement comes after the United States’ Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued an alert on imported prawns and shrimp from Malaysia. The FDA said approximately a third of the imports contained residue of nitrofurans and/or chloramphenicol after testing.

The AVA said veterinary drugs are not permitted in food including prawns and shrimp. Prawns found to contain veterinary drug residues such as nitrofurans and amphenicols would not be allowed to be imported or sold, it said.

A spokesperson added: “As part of AVA’s routine surveillance and inspection programme, imported prawns and shrimps (i.e. fresh or frozen) are monitored and sampled for food safety and compliance with our standards and requirements. Food products that fail our tests will not be allowed for sale.”

Singapore imported 16,400 tonnes of prawns and shrimp in 2015. About 56 per cent, or 91,000 tonnes, were from Malaysia, AVA said. Other sources of prawns and shrimp include Indonesia and Vietnam.


Banned antibiotics not detected in prawns and shrimp imported from Malaysia, says AVA
Today Online 22 Apr 16;

SINGAPORE — The Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority of Singapore said it has not detected banned antibiotics in prawns and shrimp imported from Malaysia even as the US Food and Drug Administration announced that shipments of the seafood to the US from Malaysia had traces of chloramphenicol and/or nitrofurans.

In response to questions from TODAY, the AVA said on Friday (April 22) that veterinary drugs are not permitted in food including prawns and shrimp. “Affected prawns found to contain veterinary drug residues such as nitrofurans and amphenicols would not be allowed to be imported or sold,” said the AVA.

In 2015, 56 per cent of imported live, chilled or frozen prawns and shrimp came from Malaysia, amounting to about 9,100 tonnes.

As part of AVA’s routine surveillance and inspection programme, imported prawns and shrimp are monitored and sampled for food safety and compliance with Singapore’s standards and requirements. “Food products that fail our tests will not be allowed for sale,” said the statement.

On April 18, the FDA issued an import alert on prawns and shrimp from peninsular Malaysia due to “testing that found that approximately one-third of imports from peninsular Malaysia contained residues of nitrofurans and/or chloramphenicol.” Once an import alert is issued, shipments may be detained without physical examination at the port of entry.

According to the FDA statement, from Oct 1, 2014 to Sep 30, 2015, the FDA tested 138 samples of shrimp and prawns from peninsular Malaysia and found that 45 samples (32 percent) contained residues of the banned antibiotics.

The agency has requested that the Malaysian government investigate the cause of the residue problem and develop a programme of short-term and long-term actions to prevent the export of this shrimp from Malaysia to the United States, said the statement.

The Star newspaper reported that Malaysia’s Health Ministry has started investigating the FDA’s claims.

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