Group of raw shrimps on a table, market in Catania, Italy.


A recurring question on any shrimp lover’s mind is whether or not farm-raised shrimp is safe to consume. One must remember that the shrimp business, just like any other business, is a competitive one, Therefore, it is a very profitable and cost-effective practice to raise shrimp in farms on a large scale. This is the primary reason why farm-raised shrimp has become so popular – because it helps meet the growing demands of people who love eating shrimp. However, just because this is a common practice in the shrimp business doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s healthy for the consumers. Let us elaborate some more on this fact.

Is Farm-Raised Shrimp Safe To Eat?

Hard evidence has shown that farm-raised shrimp, especially those raised outside of the United States, are often treated with a wide range of antibiotics and pesticides. As a matter of fact, any shrimp that has been treated in this way is not even allowed to enter the United States. Overseas shrimp farmers use pesticides like organophosphates as well as antifungals like Gentian Violet. Both of these compound types have been linked to cancer in humans. They’re also believed to wreak havoc on the environment.

Why Do Shrimp Farmers Use These Harmful Chemicals?

When shrimp are being raised by the thousands within a closed environment, they’re susceptible to different types of diseases. The most common of these is ‘Early Mortality Syndrome’, or EMS, a lethal epizootic disease in farmed shrimp caused by a bacterial infection. EMS can be such a threat that in 2013, it was reported to have wiped out nearly 50% of Thailand’s farmed-shrimp population! EMS does not respond to antibiotics. Other diseases occurring within shrimp populations are often caused by viruses, meaning that antibiotics won’t do anything to protect the shrimp in those cases either.

Now, the shrimp farmers don’t want to lose out on their investments, and hence use harmful chemicals to decrease the chances of diseases spreading throughout the shrimp population. This means that shrimp farmers make use of potentially cancerous chemicals to “protect” shrimp, when, in fact, those chemicals aren’t doing any protection at all and are rather harmful!

The Widespread Dangers Of Imported Shrimp

During tests conducted by the FDA, an estimated 205 imported shrimp samples were evaluated. 11 of these samples tested positive for the harmful compounds mentioned above. The small quantities found in the above samples probably aren’t enough to cause any serious health issues, but it’s important enough for you to think and reconsider. It’s estimated that around 23,000 people die each year from bacteria-related illnesses, and more than 2 million people become severely ill. This means that chemicals like enrofloxacin and oxytetracycline, both of which are known to cause cancer, are entering the U.S. circulation and potentially making a lot of people sick. Here are some of the major retailers that purchased this shrimp:

  • Costco
  • Albertsons
  • Sprouts
  • Walmart
  • Fry’s Marketplace
  • Kroger
  • Hy-Vee

Now, before deciding not to shop at any of these locations, you need to understand that these companies have not violated any laws. Remember that it’s the job of the FDA to test for these harmful chemicals, and even if a single shrimp is found to contain any traces, the entire shipment shouldn’t be allowed to enter the United States.


The bottom-line is that by paying more attention to the chemical compounds being used to raise farm-raised shrimp, it’s safe to say that fewer and fewer people will succumb to these illnesses each year. So please ensure that you’re always well-informed about what you’re buying.