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Myth #2: Fish from Aquaculture is full of Antibiotics

Farm-raised fish and seafood are frequently attacked as containing antibiotic and chemical residues. Is this true, and if so, why are antibiotics or chemicals present in aquaculture?

All methods of animal and plant food production are subject to disease and environmental threats. Aquaculture is no exception. To promote good animal welfare, disease prevention and control plays a critically important role in animal husbandry. If a fish is susceptible to a particular disease, as with humans, preventative controls can sometimes include vaccines. In situations where vaccines are unavailable or not practical, antibiotics may be used to treat disease. Chemicals fall into two categories, those introduced at the farm level to improve production (e.g., chemicals to treat water) or contaminants present in the environment (e.g., heavy metals).

What assurance do we have that farmed seafood does not contain potentially harmful antibiotic residues or chemicals?

For fish and seafood farmed within the European Union, there are strict regulations regarding approved antibiotics and the use of chemicals. For all EU products and imports, the Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed (RASFF) shares information on food risks such as antibiotic residues or chemical contaminants.   Additionally, the GLOBALG.A.P. Aquaculture Standard has 56 control points which address food safety issues at the farm level. Specifically, antibiotics and therapeutant treatments are addressed, including strict adherence to withdrawal periods. Furthermore, the GLOBALG.A.P. Aquaculture Standard control points address the use of chemicals and hazardous compounds.