How safe is your shrimp?

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Americans love shrimp. We eat an average of almost 4 pounds per year, making it more popular than tuna. (KFSN)

Americans love shrimp. We eat an average of almost 4 pounds per year, making it more popular than tuna. About 94 percent of the U.S. shrimp supply is imported -- and the majority of it is farmed. The director of Consumer Reports' Food Safety and Sustainability Center, Urvashi Rangan, Ph.D., says, "Farming can be done responsibly, but when it's not, bacteria and disease can thrive. Antibiotics may seem like a fix, but we don't think so, and they're illegal for use in imported shrimp."

Consumer Reports tested 342 packages of shrimp, farmed and wild, raw and cooked. The shrimp was purchased in large chain supermarkets, big-box stores and "natural" food stores in 27 cities across the country.

Overall, 60 percent of the raw shrimp samples tested positive for bacteria, so safe preparation is very important. And 11 samples, or about 5 percent of imported, raw, farmed shrimp, had antibiotic residues. Rangan says, "The antibiotic use is particularly troubling because it's illegal, it promotes antibiotic resistance, and it just isn't a responsible way of farming."

The Food and Drug Administration is responsible for inspecting shrimp coming into the U.S. to make sure it doesn't contain any drugs or chemicals that aren't permitted. But last year it examined less than 4 percent of foreign shrimp shipments and tested less than 1 percent. Consumer Reports is urging the FDA to step up its inspections.

Consumer Reports recommends buying responsibly sourced wild shrimp, like those recommended by Seafood Watch or certified by the Marine Stewardship Council. If farmed shrimp are better for your budget, Consumer Reports says look for farmed shrimp certified by Naturland, the Aquaculture Stewardship Council, or Whole Foods Market Responsibly Farmed.

It is important to handle and cook shrimp properly to reduce the risk of spreading bacteria. You can find tips at ConsumerReports.org.
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foodsafetyfood safetyshoppingconsumerconsumer reportsconsumer watch
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