STIRLING scientists have challenged concerns over the consumption of imported farmed shrimp.

Experts from the University of Stirling analysed EU data to assess the risks on shrimp imports, which have a reputation among some consumer groups as being low quality.

Professor Dave Little and Dr Richard Newton, of the Institute of Aquaculture, worked with colleagues at Shanghai Ocean University and also found that shrimp imports have become much safer in recent years.

Their research was published in the Aquaculture journal with Dr Newton explaining: “Farmed shrimp imported to the EU has a reputation among some consumer groups as being of low quality and this is sometimes reflected in the mainstream press, as well as on the internet.

“Over several decades – since farmed shrimp imports first appeared on supermarket shelves – a negative narrative has grown over environmental and social malpractice.

“This has included claims that tropical farmed shrimp are grown in polluted water and treated with large quantities of chemicals, which can be harmful to human health.

“We hypothesised that we could perform a risk assessment of shrimp imports which would allow us to calculate the amount that an average adult would need to consume to surpass the acceptable daily intake (ADI) for any particular harmful substance.”

The team looked at 18 years of data from the EU’s Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed (RASFF), analysing information on imports that had been found to contain banned, or excessive quantities of, substances and were removed from the market.

Dr Newton continued: “Based on the information in the RASFF database covering 1998 to 2015, our study found that consumers would need to eat more than 300g of shrimp per day to exceed the ADI for antimicrobials.”

Shortcomings in the RASFF system were also identified when it comes to determining ADIs.

Scientists concluded the reality was that the ADI is likely to be much higher than the 300g calculated as the database only contains information on contaminated shrimp and not those available to the consumer.

Dr Newton concluded: “This means that imported farmed shrimp are no less safe than any other seafood product.”