Whether dipped in cocktail sauce at a party, sizzling in butter at a tapas bar, or topping a salad on a lunch break, shrimp has become the most popular seafood in the United States. The typical American eats three-and-a-half pounds of shrimp a year – surpassing even canned tuna, our long time former favorite.
Driving this surge in the consumption of shrimp is a method of intensive production that began expanding in the 1970s. Rather than being caught at sea, large quantities of shrimp are grown in man-made ponds containing a mix of ocean and fresh water along the coasts of Southeast Asia and South or Central America. Unfortunately, this industrial-scale shrimp production, often with hefty doses of antibiotics and pesticides, creates a series of food safety concerns.
The negative effects of eating industrially produced shrimp may include neurological damage from ingesting chemicals such as endosulfans, an allergic response to penicillin residues or infection by an antibiotic-resistant pathogen such as E. coli.