The southwestern region of Vietnam, known as Mekong Delta, is having the worst drought in almost a century. The seafood production in the country is significantly affected by the drought and the salt water contamination, with over 81,000 hectares of shrimp breeding ponds damaged in 8 provinces.
Currently, the annual demands of breeding shrimp in Vietnam are around 130 billion. However, the local broodstock can meet less than half of that demand, or around 40%, so shrimp suppliers in Vietnam are now injecting CMC, carboxymethyl cellulose, glucose, and gelatin, to increase the weight of the available shrimp.
One shrimp exporter confessed that she injects each shrimp with a combination of gelatin, CMC and glucose to make it look fresher and heavier, using 30 chemical pumps. In that way, 1 kilogram normal shrimp will weight around 1.15 to 1.2 kg. This will make shrimps bulkier and fresher, which in turn increases their price.
In the video, the facility worker explains that as all local shrimp suppliers, their injected shrimps are also sold to seafood export companies in Ca Mau, Vietnam.
Even worse, the biggest vietnamese shrimp suppliers import over half of their raw material for processing from countries like China– a country with highly ineffective food regulation system. Eight percent of all shrimps consumed by people in U.S., or about 100 million pounds, comes from Vietnam, so you can imagine the double whammy.
In the period between January and October 2015, the shrimps imported to U.S. from China had worth of around $150 million. After this, on December 11, 2015, the FDA issued an import alert concerning the presence of new animal drugs and unsafe food additives from Chinese imported seafood, including shrimps.
he water-soluble anionic linear polymer, CMC, is used in cosmetics and pharmaceuticals. Its side effects include stomach cramps, diarrhea, irritation, eye pain, and lingering vision changes.
However, the scandal of CMC, and industrial gel (cheaper, carcinogenic and non-edible CMC version which damages the blood and liver) injected shrimps, remains. It’s seems no one pays attention to the hazardous side effects.
Food regulations in China are unwilling or unable to stop all this. Even the retailers who aren’t injecting shrimps are accepting the adulterated goods received from wholesalers, although well-aware of all that’s happening.
Infected Shrimp Approved for American Consumers
But the American consumers shouldn’t concern only about the gel-injected shrimps. Vietnamese shrimp farmers freese their shrimps in contaminated water prior to exporting them to America. Mansour Samadpour is a microbiologist who says that this contaminated water supports the development of bacteria and diseases.
He says the conditions they use are simply unacceptable– animals near the farm, pigs, ice made from dirty water.
Consumer Report has conducted a 2015 study which discovered that farmed shrimp contains higher level of dangerous bacteria and antibiotics. They found several bacteria, including E. coli, and vibrio in 16 % of cooked, ready-to-eat shrimp.
The bacteria they contain can cause food poisoning, which includes dehydration and diarrhea, and many other illnesses. Although rarely, it can even prove fatal. They detected antibiotics in 11 samples of raw imported farmed shrimp. Moreover, they found MRSA in 7 samples (6 farmed and 1 wild shrimp). This bacteria can cause infections which can be hard to treat.