Veterinary drug residues in seafood inspected by the European Union, United States, Canada, and Japan from 2000 to 2009

Environ Sci Technol. 2011 Sep 1;45(17):7232-40. doi: 10.1021/es201608q. Epub 2011 Aug 10.


Veterinary drugs are used to treat or prevent a wide array of production-related diseases in aquaculture. Residues of these drugs in seafood products may pose risks to consumers, prompting governments to set drug residue tolerance levels and inspect seafood for violations of these standards. This study characterizes veterinary drug inspection policies and violations among four inspecting bodies (European Union (E.U.), United States (U.S.), Canada, and Japan), using government-collected veterinary drug violation data from 2000 to 2009. Most veterinary drug violations were detected in species that are commonly farm-raised. Asian seafood products, including shrimp and prawns, catfish (or fish sold as catfish), crab, tilapia, eel, and Chilean salmon were most frequently in violation of veterinary drug residue standards. Vietnam had the greatest number of violations among exporting countries. Concentrations of most veterinary drugs in seafood found in violation did not differ between inspecting bodies that reported drug concentrations. Transparency in seafood inspection reporting varied widely among inspecting bodies. Estimation of violations in the untested fraction of seafood was precluded by a lack of information from inspecting bodies regarding the distinction between targeted and random sampling. Increased transparency could facilitate a more rigorous characterization of public health risks from consuming imported seafood.

MeSH terms

  • Animal Diseases / drug therapy
  • Animals
  • Aquaculture
  • Canada
  • Drug Residues / analysis*
  • European Union
  • Food Contamination / analysis*
  • Food Inspection / standards
  • Humans
  • Japan
  • Public Health
  • Seafood*
  • United States
  • Veterinary Drugs / adverse effects
  • Veterinary Drugs / analysis*
  • Veterinary Drugs / therapeutic use
  • Vietnam


  • Veterinary Drugs