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Biloxi group lauds FDA alert about suspected toxic imported shrimp

JOHN FITZHUGH/SUN HERALDJames Dang, right, and Tu Troung, both of Ocean Springs, unload a barrel of net dip from their boat at the Sherman V. Canaan Back Bay Fishing Dock in Biloxi on June 2, 2015.
JOHN FITZHUGH/SUN HERALDJames Dang, right, and Tu Troung, both of Ocean Springs, unload a barrel of net dip from their boat at the Sherman V. Canaan Back Bay Fishing Dock in Biloxi on June 2, 2015. SUN HERALD

A Biloxi-based shrimp trade group lauded a Food and Drug Administration announcement that the agency's district offices could detain shrimp imports from Malaysia over health concerns.

The FDA on Monday issued an Import Alert on shrimp and prawns from peninsular Malaysia, saying testing had found about one-third of the imports from the region contained residues of nitrofurans or chloramphenicol. The two antibiotics have been shown to cause blood disorders, leukemia and other health problems.

Fiscal year 2015 showed a sharp increase in shipments of Malaysian shrimp containing the chemicals, according to the FDA.

The Import Alert allows the FDA's district offices to detain imports without physical examination -- essentially making the shipments guilty until proven innocent when it comes to safety.

David Veal, the executive director of the Biloxi-based American Shrimp Processors Association, used the announcement to promote the purchase of American shrimp.

"This is even more evidence that American restaurants, retailers and consumers should be paying attention to the labels on the shrimp they're buying," he said. "When buying American shrimp, consumers can always be confident that wild American shrimp products meet or exceed the highest standards, which is not the same case with imports."

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