Vol. 5 Num 833 Fri. September 29, 2006  

Export of Shrimp, Frozen Foods
Nitrofuran detector to be commissioned next month

Frozen food exporters have long last imported a nitrofuran detecting machine, which is expected to be in operation next month and solve the problem regarding presence of the antibiotic in export consignments, according to industry insiders.

Due to absence of such a laboratory facility in the country for long to detect the presence of this antibiotic in frozen shrimps and other foods, importers of the items rejected several consignments in the past.

European buyers recently rejected 12 containers of frozen shrimps worth Tk 8 crore for presence of nitrofuran in them and sent back the consignments to Bangladesh, said Bangladesh Frozen Foods Exporters Association (BFFEA).

"The machine will be handed over to the Department of Fisheries, which will issue certificates after necessary sample testing of frozen shrimps and other exportable fishes," Maqsudur Rahman, BFFEA president, told The Daily Star.

The problem centering the presence of the antibiotic may be solved to an expected extent with the commissioning of the machine, which will be set up in Dhaka, he hoped.

The exporters, however, suggested that the origin of nitrofuran should be identified first and steps should be taken accordingly.

"Feeds, pesticides and hatcheries are some of the possible sources of nitrofuran but measures are yet to be taken to control these sources," Maqsudur said, suggesting that an expert should work to identify the problem so that it can not take toll on frozen shrimp export in the long run.

Although some other shrimp and food exporting countries are detecting nitrofuran on regular basis, they are solving the problem with different preventive measurers, the BFFEA president added.

On the other hand, Bangladesh's reputation in the global market is questioned as the exporters take long time in sending back the foreign currency to the importers in case of rejection of any consignment.

"Sometimes, the local exporters need more than one year to get permission from the central bank to send the money back to the importers if any consignment is rejected due to the presence of nitrofuran," Maqsudur said.

Frozen shrimp is the third largest export earner for Bangladesh after readymade garment and jute. The country fetched US$ 459 million in the 2005-2006 financial year by exporting frozen foods to different countries.

Bangladesh exported 83.80 million pounds of frozen shrimps last fiscal year and the average unit price was $4.82.