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Antibiotic Residue Found on Imported Shrimp

HB335 Would Require Restaurants to Tell Patrons They’re Eating Imported Seafood

BATON ROUGE – A bill being considered by the Louisiana Legislature would require all food service establishments to tell their customers if they are being served crawfish or shrimp imported from a foreign country.

House Bill 335, authored by Jerry “Truck” Gisclair (D-LaRose), was approved by the Louisiana House of Representatives Health and Welfare Committee on April 25. According to the bill, “the state recognizes that serious risks to public health may be posed by antibiotics, radiation and numerous toxins found in seafood products … that originate outside the United States.”

Research conducted by former Louisiana State University doctoral student Murshida Khan and Louisiana Sea Grant College Program and LSU AgCenter fisheries specialist Julie Lively showed antibiotic and microbial residue on imported shrimp purchased at various markets and grocery stores in Baton Rouge during Winter 2016 and Spring 2017.

For antibiotic residue tests, out of 42 samples, 30 were positive for nitrofurantoin, two for malachite green, three for oxytetracycline and seven for fluoroquinolone. Nitrofurantoin, oxytetracycline and fluoroquinolone are antibiotics. Malachite green is an antimicrobial used in aquaculture.

Khan also discovered sulfite residue on all imported shrimp samples, with the exception of Ecuador. Sulfite residue was below U.S. Food and Drug Administration limits, but it was not included on the packages’ ingredient lists as required by law.

“While we knew a common reason for import rejection at customs is antibiotic contamination, we never expected to find this many samples readily available for purchase in Baton Rouge to test positive,” said Lively. “It was also really concerning for anyone with a sulfite allergy or health trigger that most of the shrimp was exposed to sulfite at some point, but not labeled.”

More than 90 percent of the seafood consumed in the United States is imported from other countries. Shrimp is the leading fresh or frozen product imported to the U.S., accounting for about 33 percent of all seafood imports by weight. The average American eats 4.4 pounds of shrimp annually and a total of 16 pounds of seafood.

Khan graduated from LSU in 2018. An abstract of her dissertation can be found at

A full version of HB335 can be found at

Since its establishment in 1968, Louisiana Sea Grant has worked to promote stewardship of the state’s coastal resources through a combination of research, education and outreach programs critical to the cultural, economic and environmental health of Louisiana’s coastal zone. Louisiana Sea Grant, based at LSU, is part of the National Sea Grant College Program, a network of 33 university-based programs in each of the U.S. coastal and Great Lakes states and Puerto Rico.


Antibiotic/Antimicrobial Residue Results

Country of Origin Oxytetracycline Nitrofurantoin Malachite Green Fluoroquinolone
Thailand 2 10 0 4
India 0 8 0 1
Indonesia 0 3 1 0
Bangladesh 0 1 0 0
Ecuador 0 1 0 0
Vietnam 0 6 1 2
China 1 1 0 0
Total 3 30 2 7

Source: Khan, Murshida

Quality of United States and Bangladesh Shrimp Due to Growth and Post-harvest Practices