Shrimp and Seafood Labels

Americans love shrimp. It is one of the most popular entrees on our dinner tables. Shrimp can be tasty, refreshing, and good for you. We eat more fish in this country than we did decades ago. With the increase in shrimp consumption, the United States has become a major importer.

Nearly 94% of the shrimp that Americans consume comes from overseas countries like India, Indonesia, and Thailand. Most of the shrimp found in your grocery stores are farmed-raised in large industrial tanks or ponds. Bacteria and algae from wastewater can flow into these ponds, so farmers utilize drugs or chemicals to correct the problem. However, harmful chemicals can remain on fish and in the nearby environment.

Many are concerned about the shrimp-farming practices that can impact the health of fish, humans, and the environment. Some fish products do bear certain labels in supermarkets. Consumers should educate themselves and learn what they mean. Here are a few popular shrimp labels you might find in your local supermarket.

  • A Marine Steward Council label denotes wild shrimp that have been caught with sustainable fishing practices. These practices may include using nets designed to keep other fish and animals from being caught up with the shrimp.
  • An Aquaculture Stewardship Council label ensures that shrimp are raised using techniques to protect the environment and without the presence of antibiotics. The label also means that shrimp farms did not use forced labor practices.
  • A Naturland label means that shrimp are raised following protocols that ban the over-stocking of shrimp ponds. Furthermore, the label ensures that chemicals, antibiotics, pesticides, and other harmful toxins were not used in their meal feed. These shrimp are fed from fish meal only.
  • A Whole Foods Market Responsibly Farmed label means that shrimp are raised in a way that protects the environment and without antibiotics. These labels are only found in Whole Foods Supermarkets.

Some seafood labels that may be misleading include all natural, environmentally aware, no hormones or antibiotics, sustainable, or organic. At present, there is no standard set for organic seafood in the United States. Some popular types of shrimp include:

  • Pink Shrimp: They are found in the Gulf and southern waters of Florida. Pink shrimp are the largest species of shrimp and can grow up to 11 inches with a life span of nearly two years. Pink shrimp are wild-caught fish.
  • White Shrimp: They are grown in the Northwest Florida Atlantic coast, and they are wild caught. They can grow to about 8 inches with a life span of about two years.
  • Brown Shrimp: They are found in the Atlantic and Gulf waters throughout the year with June and August as the peak season.  They can grow up to 9 inches.
  • Royal Red Shrimp: They live in the Atlantic waters and deep red in color. Royal Red Shrimp have a distinctive taste, and they are used in sauces.
  • Rock Shrimp: They can be found on the Atlantic coast and the Gulf of Mexico. They are small in size. Rock Shrimp are available in raw form at the supermarket. They can be peeled. The Florida rock shrimp is often called the small lobster.

With the growing popularity of shrimp in America, some believe more needs to be done to ensure their safe consumption. The Food and Drug Administration can implement new and greater standards for inspection of seafood safety. Shrimp farms at home and overseas should undergo stricter inspections, and we should not allow any shrimp imports that test positive for bacteria in the U.S.