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Drug- tainted Indian shrimps raise stink in US.

THE discovery of residues of a banned antibiotic drug in shrimps imported from India is causing concern in the United States.

Samples of imported seafood picked up from grocery stores in New York were tested by the Institute of Environmental and Human Health at Texas Tech University for the presence of antibiotic drugs.

About 10 per cent of the 30 samples tested contained antibiotic residues in excess of permissible limits.

In two samples -- one from India and the other from Thailand -- a banned antibiotic, nitrofuranzone, was found. Both contained quantities 28 and 29 times, respectively, the limit of one part per billion ( PPB) permitted by the US Food and Drug Administration ( FDA). Nitrofuranzone has been classified as a ' probable cancer- causing' agent.

When contacted, officials at the Marine Products Export Development Authority ( MPEDA) in Cochin feigned ignorance about the report. However, they claimed that every shipment of seafood exported from India is checked for presence of antibiotics. " Our standards call for zero- tolerance to antibiotic presence in our shipments," an official said.

Farmers use antibiotics in the medicated feed given to shrimps in order to combat bacterial diseases.

International agencies such as the Food and Agriculture Organisation ( FAO) allows only a few drugs to be used for this purpose.

Nitrofuranzone is in the list of drugs banned for aquaculture use. International regulations prohibit its use at any stage of shrimp production.

The drug is a genotoxic substance, which means it can affect the DNA of cells and result in toxicity that can possibly lead to cancer.

Indian officials say export promotion agencies were aware of the overuse of drugs and conduct regular awareness campaigns for shrimp farmers in Kerala and Andhra Pradesh. Any sample found positive for antibiotics is withdrawn from export shipments. In Andhra Pradesh alone, six testing labs have been set up for the purpose.

Total exports of seafood products from India account for about ` 13,000 crore.

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Publication:Mail Today (New Delhi, India)
Geographic Code:9INDI
Date:Jun 5, 2012
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