Many shrimp in a pile together
The Chemical Risk Behind Imported Shrimp (And How To Curb It)
By Christina Garcia
Domestic shrimp are usually wild-caught since farmed shrimp have so much competition from cheaper varieties sourced overseas, but there are many reasons to choose American shrimp. When it comes to staying safe, either wild-caught or farmed American shrimp is often subject to strict regulations and standards which do not exist in other countries.
People may worry about the transmission of toxic chemicals in their seafood due to water pollution, but shrimp sold by American fishermen and from U.S. waterways are safe by Food and Drug Administration standards. Although the Environmental Protection Agency may disagree on safe levels of mercury and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and the FDA only tests a tiny percentage of imported shrimp, domestic shrimp is often still a better bet.
Domestic aquacultured shrimp is subject to lots of regulations, while shrimp from other countries, usually farmed, is often not. Consumer Reports adds that farmed shrimp from overseas uses antibiotics, which can often contribute to drug-resistant strains of bacteria like MRSA, and The New York Times reports that hormones and steroids are used in imported fish.
Some overseas farms can be dirty, as bacteria can grow without the same standards as domestically caught shrimp. Inspected imports also find that shrimp often have bacteria that would come from human handlers who are not practicing strict cleanliness standards, but American fish farmers do not generate reports of bacteria the way shrimp from overseas does.