US now importing shrimp raised on feces and harvested by inhumane slave labor

Sunday, April 19, 2015
By Paul Martin

by: Jonathan Benson
Sunday, April 19, 2015

Social media campaigns to stop human slavery and trafficking across the globe are currently in vogue amongst armchair activist millennials in the U.S. and elsewhere. But how many of these same folks would be willing to put their money where their mouth is and stop eating imported seafood, some of which is being brought in from countries that are actively buying and selling men as slaves to generate factory-farmed shrimp for export to the U.S.?

The illicit shrimp trade in places like Cambodia and Vietnam isn’t necessarily a hot topic in mainstream news, but it’s having a huge impact not only on food safety but on the lives of individuals who are literally being held captive against their will, oftentimes without any pay at all, in order to provide cheap seafood for export to First World nations. And the products they’re selling are more often than not tainted with harmful bacteria and chemicals.

As much as 8 percent of the shrimp consumed by Americans, some 100 million pounds annually, comes from southeast Asia where men are right now being bought and sold as slaves to harvest, process, and send this shrimp off to North America. According to Bloomberg, much of this shrimp is foul — fed a diet of contaminated pig feces, raised in filthy grow ponds, and stored in room temperature containers teeming with flies and insects.

The final product is nothing short of dangerous, warn experts, and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) isn’t doing much to stop it — the agency is too busy destroying the lives and businesses of American raw milk farmers to bother with ensuring that imported seafood is safe for human consumption. As little as 2.7 percent of imported food, in fact, is even inspected by the FDA — the rest is sent straight to market.

This is a major problem, not only from a human rights perspective due to the slavery involved but also from a safety perspective. Shrimp from some of these areas in southeast Asia is shipped to the U.S. in dirty plastic tubs, for instance, and covered in ice made from tap water that health authorities in Vietnam warn must be boiled before use due to the risks associated with bacterial contamination. Needless to say, this isn’t happening with the ice used in the shipment of U.S.-bound shrimp.

“Those conditions — ice made from dirty water, animals near the farms, pigs — are unacceptable,” says Mansour Samadpour, a microbiologist and specialist in testing water for shellfish farming.

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