American consumers are scooping up more shrimp than ever at lower prices, but it is not all good news because some aquaculture-grown shrimp and prawns from Malaysia contain residues from unapproved animal drugs and unsafe food additives. The combination of the huge consumer demand in the U.S and the growing potential for unsafe product getting into the country caused the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to issue  an import alert yesterday on Malaysian shrimp and prawns. An import alert means border agents will detain a food product without physical inspection. Shrimp is among the most popular of the all the imported seafood being consumed in the United States. About 90 percent of the seafood being consumed by Americans is imported from about 140 counties around the globe, according to FDA. Malaysia is usually among  the top 10 suppliers of imported shrimp and prawns to the U.S. And, the expansion of the aquaculture industry there has come with more misuse of animal drugs and unsafe chemicals. FDA says there is “clear scientific evidence” that these compounds are being used in “various stages of aquaculture” that can result in the presence of residues in the edible portion of the seafood. There is also the potential for bacteria to be transferred to humans, reducing the effectiveness of antimicrobial drugs for the treatment of human disease. FDA is especially concerned about the potential for antibiotic residues from nitrofuran and chloramphenicol. asianshrimpfarm_405x250 According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), shrimp exports to the U.S. were up in all but one of the top seven supplier nations. NOAA said the exports were up 17.5 percent in February on a year-on-year basis. The reason would seem to be lower prices, with the average price per kilogram at $8.89, compared to $10.13/kg for February of 2015. Imports from Indonesia, India, Thailand, Vietnam, China and Mexico — six of the top seven shrimp exporters to the U.S. — all increased. Imports from Ecuador are the only major supplier that were off, down about 11 percent. The area being targeted by FDA in the April 18 import alert is a seven-state and two federal territory area of the Peninsular Malaysia area. FDA officers will be detaining shrimp and prawns from the area. Shipments from firms that are eligible to be on a “green list” will be accepted. Detained shipments from Peninsular Malaysia will have to be tested by a private laboratory to show they are clean of the two targeted antibiotics before they can gain entry to the U.S. market. In a study that ran from Oct. 1, 2014, to Sept. 30, 2015, FDA found the antibiotic residues in 45 samples or about 32 percent of the shrimp and prawns being exported to the U.S. from Peninsular Malaysia. (To sign up for a free subscription to Food Safety News, click here.)