Cheaper shrimp, whether farmed or wild-caught, are more likely to have undergone chemical treatment, particularly sodium tripolyphosphate and sodium bisulfite.
Shrimp heads and shells go through a process known as melanosis, or “black spot,” which darkens them after being harvested and exposed to oxygen. Sodium bisulfite is used to prevent this from happening. Consider this innocuous reaction as the marine equivalent of how apple flesh browns after being chopped.
The chemical is a component of the slushy brine mixture that most fishing boats use to store shrimp before bringing them ashore for additional processing. When the processing plant is remote from the farm, it may also be applied to shrimp raised in farms.
However, adding sodium bisulfite is simply decorative and does not actually prevent the shrimp from degrading. American consumers prefer their shrimp to be completely pink and shadow-free.
However, a small amount of melanosis is not always detrimental. Melanosis does not harm flavor, according to Wegmans’ seafood manager Steve Philips, and it may even indicate that the shrimp are chemical-free (which is one of the criteria for all the shrimp sold at the supermarket chain).
According to Mr. Philips, “the presence of melanosis is the absence of chemicals, and the absence of melanosis is not the presence of freshness.”
The industry’s method of putting a finger on the scale is tripolyphosphate. The chemical, which is frequently used with scallops as well, makes seafood absorb water, causing it to gain between 7 and 10 percent of its original weight.
Tripolyphosphate-treated shrimp cooks differently than shrimp that has not been treated. When you try to sauté them, they steam rather than sear because of their high moisture content. Additionally, they have an unusual translucent appearance even after cooking and a bouncey, rubbery texture.
The addition of tripolyphosphate to seafood is like putting water to ham, according to Jim Gossen, president of the Gulf Seafood Foundation.
You can purchase flavorless deli ham that contains 40% water, he claimed. Or you could purchase prosciutto.
By the Food and Drug Administration, sodium bisulfite and tripolyphosphate are both regarded as safe in small dosages. The general American population, however, only accounts for 1% of those who are sensitive to sulfites.
Try to purchase shrimp with the shell on and peel it yourself to prevent tripolyphosphate, which is typically added to shrimp after it has been peeled. (Save the shells for a stock of shrimp.) However, sodium bisulfite is an exception to this rule.
You could also read the packaging’s small print: Labels that you can find on bags of shrimp taken straight out of the freezer case must indicate all chemicals.
The only way to know for sure if the mounds of shrimp on ice you find at grocery stores and fishmongers are chemical-free is to ask — and hope the person behind the counter knows the answer.
What kind of shrimp should you buy?
Would you buy shrimp without the addition if you could? Buy frozen shrimp with the word “shrimp” as the only ingredient on the ingredients list if you wish to avoid additives and prioritize freshness. The “fresh” shrimp being sold at the counter at many supermarkets has probably already been frozen.
To further demonstrate that the production has been controlled, search for independent agency certifications for both wild (Wild American Shrimp) and farmed (Aquaculture Stewardship Council) shrimp. However, given that farmed, imported shrimp are frequently given antibiotics, buying wild-caught, North American shrimp is probably more environmentally friendly (check out this testing conducted by Consumer Reports).
I hope this information will help you be more cautious about what you eat and drink while also making you more skeptical of the validity of the material you read.
According to a study in a Chinese publication, consumers are reporting more shrimp with gel inside of them.
An illegal way to make shrimp heavier so they may be sold for more money is to inject them with gel. Gel-filled shrimp have been reported in China frequently for more than a decade, but the number of reports is increasing, according to the Beijing News (via the Epoch Times).
The article stated that due to their enormous size, Penaeus and tiger prawns, which are primarily imported from Southeast Asia, are the shrimp most frequently found to be tainted with gel.
Sellers of shrimp who were discovered by the Beijing News reporter to be selling shrimp with gel injections blamed the issue on wholesalers. According to the article, the gel is normally created from a combination of collagen, animal skin, and bones, but there is a chance that more dangerous—and less expensive—substances are being employed.
“Who can guarantee that the technique is aseptic, even if what was injected was edible gel, which may not be hazardous in and of itself? “
a member of the Tianjin aquatic goods association’s executive council named Liu Huiping told the Beijing News.
Injections of gelatin have also been discovered in sea horses and sea cucumbers, according a 2015 report by China’s People Daily.
The Beijing News story claims that not much is being done to address the issue. According to Cui Hongtao, the deputy director of the administration for industry and commerce in the harbor of Tianjin, only products that have already failed the Agricultural Department’s examination are accepted for investigation by the administration for Industry and Commerce.
The third-largest supplier of seafood to the US is China. In 2016, China sold shrimp to the United States for more than $175 million (157 million euros).
What is the source of YOUR prawns? In this offensive video, prawns are seen being injected with jelly in the store to make them appear “fresh.”
According to a video, Vietnamese employees inject prawns with chemicals to make them appear large and fresh when they are sold and imported.
The video depicts tiger prawns being injected with a chemical in the head, tail, and midsection in a Vietnamese facility in order to make them heavier before being sold.
The majority of the prawns imported into Australia come from Vietnam, and they can be found in well-known stores like Woolworths and Coles.
When tiger prawns are marketed and transported to countries like Australia, factory employees in Vietnam inject them with chemicals to make them appear large and fresh.
Most frequently frozen and raw, black tiger prawns and vannamei are imported into Australia from Vietnam. Vietnamese black tiger prawns with ecological certification are known to be imported by Australia.
The video, which a Vietnamese TV station captured earlier this year, has since gone popular on social media, infuriating many Facebook users.
Workers were captured on camera injecting the tiger prawns with CMC, or carboxymethyl cellulose.
Before being injected into the prawns, the chemical, which is not regarded as toxic, dissolves in water and turns into a smooth liquid.
Many people have called the Vietnamese workers “shameless” and dishonest” for attempting to plump up the prawns, despite the fact that carboxymethyl cellulose is frequently used in food as a thickening for icing.
In the video, tiger prawns in a Vietnamese facility are seen getting a chemical injected into their heads, tails, and middles to make them heavier before being sold.
Workers were captured on camera injecting the tiger prawns with CMC, or carboxymethyl cellulose.
The chemical, which is not thought to be toxic, turns into a smooth liquid after dissolving in water before being injected into the prawns.
According to data from Greenpeace, Vietnam shipped prawns to Australia in 2014–15 for roughly $220 million.
The organization previously published a report last year called “Dodgy Prawns” to assist consumers in locating prawns marketed without slavery, ocean devastation, or hazardous chemicals.
In addition to black tiger and banana prawns raised responsibly in Queensland, Greenpeace’s prawn guide also recommended eastern king prawns from Moreton Bay, Queensland, and Vietnam-sourced black tiger prawns.
Due to worries about the destruction of mangroves, pollution, and the usage of an invasive species, they issued a warning to stay away from any imported vannamei, which frequently originates from Vietnam.
Prawns are mostly imported into Australia from Vietnam, and are sold at well-known supermarkets including Woolworths and Coles.
Last year, Greenpeace published a new study named “Dodgy Prawns” to assist consumers in locating prawns marketed without slavery, ocean devastation, or harmful chemicals.
The Unusual Case of the Chinese Gel-Injected Shrimp
In October, Ms. Yang in the southern Chinese port city of Guangzhou purchased six expensive large tiger prawns. At first, she was pleased with her purchase, but then she discovered gel within the prawns’ heads.
Between the time the shrimp are captured and when they are sold, this gel, the presence of which is often not discernible upon superficial inspection, is injected into the shrimp to increase weight and increase profit. Because an injection would kill the shrimp, shrimp sold live have not been given one.
According to interviews and news accounts, Chinese food officials have not been very active in investigating the incidents brought to their attention, and there isn’t even agreement on where in the production line the operation occurs.
Shrimp and catfish, which rank two through ten among the most popular seafood items in the nation, are two of the top three seafood exports from China to the United States. According to figures from the U.S. Census Bureau, between January and October 2015, shrimp imports from China totaled around $150 million.
Despite new examples being constantly publicized in the Chinese press, the issue of contaminated shrimp has continued for more than ten years. The Tianjin municipal administration initiated a ferocious battle against shrimp injectors in 2005, the same year that some of the first widely reported instances of the gel-injected shrimp first surfaced. The campaign was mentioned in the report, but no information regarding the number of arrests or if shrimp adulteration rings were busted was provided.
Food safety experts said there is cause for alarm, regardless of how many or if any of the shrimp with gel injections reach these shores. On December 11, 2015, the Food and Drug Administration issued an import alert over the “presence of new animals medications and/or dangerous food additives” in shrimp and other seafood imported from China.
They are unclean
With imported shrimp, you also acquire undesirable side effects such as prohibited antibiotics. Penicillin, an antibiotic that is lawful but may cause allergic responses in unaware shrimp lovers, was discovered in earlier testing. According to Marianne Cufone, head of the fish program at the organization Food and Water Watch, imported farmed shrimp contains a wide range of contaminants, including antibiotics, leftovers from chemicals used to clean pens, dirt like mouse hair, rat hair, and fragments of insects. Salmonella and E. coli, which have both been found in imported shrimp, aren’t on that list either. In fact, according to Food & Water Watch, imported shrimp makes up between 26 and 35 percent of all shipments of imported seafood that are rejected due to contamination.
By adhering to these few guidelines, you can keep your conscience clear and avoid hazardous additives.
In her segment for the Zero Point Zero Productions television series Food Crimes, Christine Haughney discusses crime and corruption. She discusses current problems affecting the shrimp industry in her article.
Shrimp has one of the most illustrious and scandalous lives of any kind of seafood. Government statistics show that it is now the fish that Americans order and eat most frequently at restaurants and at home. It can compete in popcorn shrimp baskets at the neighborhood sports bar or a classic shrimp cocktail at a formal sit-down restaurant.
The most connections to crime, corruption, and contamination are found there as well. Most of the shrimp we eat was either grown by slave laborers in Thailand or was drowned in sodium tripolyphosphate, which gives shrimp their creamy white appearance. Even the most seasoned restaurant chefs will have a difficult time locating shrimp that hasn’t been exposed to these crimes.
The amount of slave labor involved in a shrimp’s journey from the sea to the table has become difficult to ignore in light of recent news stories. More than 2,000 fishermen were released from slavery last year as a result of the Associated Press’s reporting on the slave trade in Thailand. Additionally, it was able to pinpoint exactly where this shrimp came from in American shops and eateries including Kroger, Whole Foods, Red Lobster, and Olive Garden. Currently, the European Union is debating whether to outright forbid all Thai seafood products.
Then there is the issue of sodium tripolyphosphate, which is added to most shrimp by the seafood industry to increase size and maintain color. The chemical is “generally recognized as safe,” according to the most recent Food and Drug Administration classification, but many shrimp aficionados have complained that it has caused them to get hives. Frankie Terzoli, worldwide vice president of traceability for food and seafood at Frequentz, claims that sodium tripolyphosphate at the very least gives shrimp a powdery taste and removes the flavor of the ocean. Since it wouldn’t be profitable to sell shrimp without sodium tripolyphosphate, he thinks that around 90% of the market is saturated with it. According to Terzoli, “the general population wants to pay X dollars for the biggest shrimp they can acquire. The issue is that the market is unwilling to pay the higher production costs associated with shrimp of that size.
Home cooks have it particularly tough since they lack the options or negotiating power that chefs have when purchasing shrimp in quantity.