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Japan’s new ethoxyquin standard spooks Indian shrimp industry

By Ankush Bhai Chibber , 14-Sep-2012

India’s shrimp exporters are concerned by a new move by Japanese food safety regulators to lower the acceptable levels of a key anti-oxidant used in fishmeal.

Earlier this month, Japan’s Food Safety Commission announced new regulations that would impose compulsory testing for ethoxyquin in shrimp consignments from India on the basis of a default standard of 0.01ppm.

Ethoxyquin is a quinoline-based antioxidant and an important ingredient in shrimp feed, with almost all shrimp units in India using it. Japan permits a minimum residue level of 1 ppm for fish.

Indian officials and seafood producers and exporters are calling the standard baseless and damaging to the country’s seafood export market. This, they say, will affect the almost 100,000 households involved in aquaculture. 

Significant business

India’s is a major exporter of seafood and Japan is one of its key export destinations, especially since the Fukushima incident. Data from India’s Department of Animal Husbandry, Dairying & Fisheries (DADF), showed marine product exports are estimated to have reached US$3.42bn, up 20% from 2011­12.

According to the DADF, exports include black tiger and fresh water prawn shrimp, frozen versatile fish, frozen skipjack and squid. These are sourced mostly from Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Kerala, Tamil Nadu and West Bengal.

In a statement, the Marine Products Export Development Authority (MPEDA), the agency working for the promotion of seafood exports, said that Japanese authorities have been approached to reconsider their decision and put a stay on it until further investigations can be made.

Reaching out

A team led by the chairman of the MPEDA visited Japan earlier this month to push the fact that the proposed standard of 0.01 ppm is not based on any internationally accepted scientific studies.

The MPEDA team also informed the Japanese authorities that that there are no international norms for ethoxyquin in shrimps, and no study has shown any scientific evidence of danger to human health to merit the fixing of minimum residue levels for fish and shrimp.

However, for now, neither the Food Safety Commission nor any other authority has not made any move towards recanting the notice, which was immediately enforceable. On the other hand, no shrimp consignments from India have yet been returned by Japan.

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