Seafood in China Pumped with Antibiotics

Dangerous antibiotic-resistance in humans is a concern when eating sea animals.


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An exposé published in the current print issue of Bloomberg Businessweek explores the mounting problem of antibiotics used within the seafood industry in China. The country is the world’s largest exporter of marine animals raised for food, and scientists estimate that Chinese farmers expose fish to as many antibiotics as their land animal counterparts—perhaps even more, as antibiotics are also used to treat aquatic disease in the water of fish farms. After a recent discovery of rare superbug bla IMP-27 in a pig on a United States farm, researchers at Ohio State University recently stated that antibiotic-resistance in humans—which can occur after consuming animal products that contain antibiotics—is “an urgent public health threat” as it bars doctors from being able to treat common illnesses. While the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) claims that strict regulations exist that protect the United States from importing tainted marine animals, a recent investigation by conservation group Oceana uncovered fraud in the fish industry, finding rampant mislabeling of fish species and origins. The Bloomberg exposé confirms that marine animals from China do, in fact, make it to the United States. “As long as there are distributors, retailers, and restaurants that—provided that the price is low—do not know and do not care where their shrimp is coming from,” Southern Shrimp Alliance executive director John Williams says, “we expect to see shrimp-trade fraud.”

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