Scrumptious Seafood: Toxic shrimp cocktails and a sustainable shrimp recipe

Next time you grab a shrimp ring for your party or a frozen bag of shrimp on sale, think twice. Gail Johnston’s article, “Some Imported Farmed Seafood Is a Toxic Cocktail” featured in this week’s The Georgia Straight, describes how some farmed seafood available in our grocery stores contain toxins used in production. Bags of frozen shrimp found in our grocery stores are often imported from Southeast Asia and Latin America, the countries producing 99% of the world’s farmed shrimp. Johnson explains that due to waste in the shallow farming ponds and lax restrictions, drugs that would otherwise be banned in Canada are being used in these countries for food-production. Last year alone, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) found nitrofurans in seafood imported from China, India, and Indonesia.

Much of this shrimp is bred and raised in shallow ponds that are clogged with waste in countries that have far less rigorous restrictions in the use of antibiotics, pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, feed additives, and carcinogenic chemicals in the preparation of food products. The relatively unrestricted use of antibiotics, including some dangerous ones, encourages the proliferation of antibiotic-resistant microbes, which contributes to the risk of future disease outbreaks in humans where previously effective antibiotics may be of little or no use.

Research into the human-health impact of exposure to environmental toxins is growing, with effects ranging from birth defects and infertility to weakened immune functioning and cancer.

Antibiotics are used at almost all levels of the production system to prevent bacterial infections.

Awareness is growing about these practices and their potential ill effects on humans. The article highlights the efforts being made by a number of organizations, certifying bodies and companies working towards change. [Read full article].

One way in which consumers can make a difference is to support their local sustainable shrimp and prawn industries. There are a number of boats selling fresh shrimp and prawn at the Steveston Sales Float. For more information about sustainable shrimp selections, check out the SeaChoice guide.

Here is a recipe from BC Wild Shrimp featuring Northern coldwater shrimp:

Steveston Shrimpcakes

1 pound hand or machine peeled Northern cold water shrimp – cooked
¼ cup butter
¼ cup of onion chopped
3 cups of cracker crumbs
1 cup light cream
1 teaspoon prepared mustard
3 tablespoons of flour
salt and pepper to taste


1) Sauté onions in butter.
2) Stir in flour, cream, mustard, salt and pepper
3) When mixture is smooth and thick add shrimp
4) Refrigerate until chilled and then form into cakes.
5) Roll in cracker crumbs and sauté in butter.
6) Serve with your favorite salad.

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