AUSTRALIA: Alarm at antibiotics in fish imports
Posted: May 31st, 2012 - 12:49pm
Source: The Age
Australian medical experts have raised the alarm over a rising number of Asian fish imports containing banned antibiotics.
Five consignments of fish from Vietnam - including basa fillets, catfish, tilapia and frozen fish cutlets - have been stopped by biosecurity officials this year because they contained enrofloxacin, an antibiotic banned in Australia. Last year, three loads of Vietnamese fish failed tests for banned antibiotics.
Narelle Clegg, of the federal Agriculture Department's food safety branch, confirmed a rise in fish imports testing positive for banned antibiotics. ''The trend that we see with fish, and it's generally about antibiotics, is that they are very low levels of residues but they are there nonetheless,'' she said.
An analysis by The Age of ''failed food'' results since 2010 shows 1050 imported foods, or an average of one consignment a day, have not met Australian standards. Almost 400 foods were stopped at entry because of micro-organisms such as E. coli, 246 failed because they contained banned additives or substances, 228 contained contaminants and 138 failed chemical analysis.
Chinese food failed the most tests, 13 per cent, followed by food from India, Italy, Japan, South Korea and France. The failed food results included 66 instances of Listeria monocytogenes, which can cause pregnant women to miscarry, and eight consignments with Vibrio cholerae bacteria, strains of which can cause cholera.
Dr John Turnidge, president of the Australian Society for Microbiology, said the results on Vietnamese fish imports were ''an obvious cause of concern'' because they can change the bacteria in people's systems and lead to resistance to antibiotics.