University of Stirling
Richard Newton is a research fellow at the Institute of Aquaculture, University of Stirling and has worked in the aquaculture industry for over 15 years both in the commercial sector and in academia. He is interested in resource efficiency from a live cycle perspective, looking at integrating global value chains between food producing sectors. Areas of interest especially include use of by-product streams, and improving the efficiency, traceability and food safety of their use. He has worked in Scottish aquaculture for over 5 years, in Thailand, Vietnam and China on various projects looking at resource efficiency and value chain issues within their aquaculture industries.
The risk of eating shrimp in Europe: evidence vs public information and opinion
The numbers of alerts from the EU’s Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed (RASFF) related to crustacean products were compared to numbers of mainstream media stories related to health concerns. Content analysis of websites identified by the term “farmed shrimp” was undertaken and assessed for subject matter and balance. The study found that the number of RASFF alerts has fallen considerably since legislation controlling testing of food traded into, and within, the EU was introduced in 2002. There were 1512 alerts from 1980 to 2012 with 44.0% and 21.2% of alerts attributed to farmed and wild shrimp respectively; this balance was not reflected in media articles that tended to over reflect farmed shrimp. The total number of mainstream media stories closely tracked alerts. Alerts reporting antibiotic residues in wild shrimp were common, raising questions about the source of the contamination, and natural occurrence of antimicrobials was considered. Internet sources tended to have a much more negative view of farmed shrimp than the mainstream media. Such sources generally presented a skewed narrative on farmed seafood that has become accepted by the lay public with little challenge. This contradicts the stated aims of many websites and tends to narrow the discourse instead of empowering consumers about seafood choices. It was concluded that consumption of farmed shrimp does not pose any greater risk than wild seafood but that the sector has been unable to communicate the benefits of farmed produce to the consumer.