AVA gets to the heart of prawn mystery

VALERIE KOH Today Online 5 Jul 16;

SINGAPORE — Addressing a complaint from a consumer about an unknown substance found in a prawn, the Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA) said on Tuesday (July 5) that the “gelatinous blob” was the heart structure of the crustacean.

“It is normal anatomy and is prominent in fresh prawns. There are no food safety concerns, and the prawns are safe for consumption,” an AVA spokesperson said.

Recent media reports in Chinese evening daily Lianhe Wanbao and The Straits Times stated that a 40-year-old woman bought 25 prawns from a wet market in Sengkang last week, but while handling them, she found slimy, gelatinous blobs inside several of them. She boiled them, and they turned into a white solid.

The woman reportedly said she had read about practices where seafood suppliers pump chemicals into prawns to increase their weight and to fetch a higher price.

In response to media queries on Tuesday, the AVA said that as part of its food safety programme, imported prawns and shrimps, whether fresh or frozen, are monitored and sampled for food safety and for compliance with the authority’s standards and requirements.

Its sampling tests cover a variety of chemical contaminants and microbiological hazards, including pesticide residues and drug residues such as antibiotics and hormones. Microbial hazards such as salmonella are also tested.

The spokesperson added: “Food products that fail our inspections and tests will not be allowed for sale, and enforcement action (such as the) destruction of the implicated food product, licence suspension, import restriction will be taken.”

Wholesalers here import prawns from countries such as Malaysia, Indonesia and Vietnam.

Seafood wholesalers and stallholders told TODAY that they have not heard of suppliers injecting chemicals into prawns to jack up their price.

Madam Ivy Teo, 65, who sells fresh seafood at a Tampines wet market and gets her supplies from the wholesale fish market at Senoko Fishery Port, said: “Sometimes for fish, fishermen stuff things inside to make it heavier, but I’ve never heard of this being done for prawns before.”

Allswell Marketing has been supplying seafood to hotels and restaurants since 1986. Its director Lily Wong said she had never seen prawns with similar gelatinous blobs. “It’s hard to check for these things, because you can’t see it unless you peel open the prawn,” she said.

[wildsingapore comment: This link was added to the comments on the above article
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xeJoEiYeKoE]

AVA probes whether gelatin injected in 'abnormal' prawns sold at Sengkang wet market
AsiaOne 5 Jul 16;

Chinese vendor investigated for selling shrimp containing jelly-like substance
Update: An investigation by the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) has found that the "gelatinous blobs" are part of the prawns' heart structure.

"It is normal anatomy and is prominent in fresh prawns. There are no food safety concerns, and the prawns are safe for consumption," an AVA spokesman said.

SINGAPORE - A woman who had bought some prawns from a Sengkang wet market last week made a strange discovery.

When the 40-year-old, who wanted to be known only was Madam Huang, was cleaning the 25 prawns that she bought from a stall at Rivervale Plaze, she found translucent blobs.

The Singapore permanent resident, who moved here from Guangdong, China, felt something was amiss when the blobs turned into a solid white "rubber-like substance" when the prawns were placed in boiling water.

She had recently read online about seafood suppliers from Vietnam who inject prawns with gelatin-like chemicals to boost their weight so that they can fetch a higher selling price.

"In my home town, it is common for suppliers to illegally inject substances into prawns and sotongs. That is why I noticed the blobs," she said.

The Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) is investigating the matter and "looking into whether the sale weight of the crustaceans were artificially increased by injecting gelatin in them", said the report.

An AVA spokesman said: "As part of AVA's food safety programme, imported prawns and shrimp (fresh or frozen) are monitored and sampled for food safety and compliance with our standards and requirements."

Sampling tests cover a wide range of chemical contaminants and microbiological hazards, including pesticide residues, drug residues such as antibiotics and hormones, and microbial hazards such as salmonella.

"Food products that fail our inspections and tests will not be allowed for sale and enforcement action will be taken," the spokesman added.

The stallholder who sold Madam Huang the prawns told Chinese evening daily Lianhe Wanbao that he had bought the prawns from wholesalers, adding that he had never encountered this before in his 10 years of running his business.

Prawns in Singapore are sourced from countries such as Malaysia, Indonesia and Vietnam.

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