According to consumer reports, “94% of our shrimp supply comes from abroad, from countries such as India, Indonesia and Thailand.” The increase of shrimp supply coming from abroad countries is because of the demand of shrimp in the United States. Americans eat on average 4 pounds of shrimp per year, this is much higher than 35 years ago. When the shrimp come from countries abroad the majority of the shrimp are raised in man-made ponds or huge holding tanks that are filled with antibiotics. The other way to get shrimp is from the wild. Their is debate on both sides whether farm-raised shrimp is better or wild shrimp is better for your health.
“A medium sized shrimp farm in southeast Asia can produce close to a million pounds of shrimp per year.”(consumer reports) But there is evidence showing that many oversea shrimp operations use antibiotics that humans rely on to treat infections. Some of the toxins and antibiotics they use include: tetracycline, organophosphates and Gentian violet. The reason why the farmer use all these harsh chemicals is to reduce the likelihood of disease outbreaks in the ponds. The most horrifying thing that comes with abroad farm-raised shrimp is how little the FDA regulates the shipments of shrimp coming into our ports. The FDA only examined 3.7% of foreign shrimp shipments! These shipments could have been contaminated with harmful chemicals and we would not even know because the FDA is not regulating the industry properly.
When you go into the store the biggest difference between wild and farm-raised shrimp is the price. But it is worth the price difference. These shrimps are not raised with chemicals and are monitored much closely than shrimp coming from other countries. Most shrimp trawlers in the USA are required to have a Turtle Exclusion Device that excludes sea turtles from their catch (a far lesser number of them are accidentally caught thanks to this device).
So next time you are shopping at the grocery store pay attention to where the shrimp come from. Ask an employee where their shrimp comes from and look at the labeling of the shrimp. You can trust labels such as naturland, Aquaculture Stewardship Council and Whole Foods Market Responsibly Farmed. Normally if it is caught in the United States, you can assured it was caught under a management plan.