SPOT THE DIFFERENCE: Floor manager of the Ballina Fishermen?s Co-op Frank Reardoncompares some imported vannamei prawns (left)
SPOT THE DIFFERENCE: Floor manager of the Ballina Fishermen?s Co-op Frank Reardoncompares some imported vannamei prawns (left)

Imported prawns in firing line Fears voiced over use of antibiotics

By EMMA CORNFORD and DAWN COHEN

FRESH prawns often go hand-inhand with typical Christmas Day celebrations, but consumers are being warned to think carefully about what type they buy this festive season.

Grafton chemist George Flynn said he had treated people who seemed to have shown an allergic reaction to imported prawns. It appeared the reaction was to antibiotics which may have been in imported prawns.

"There were two separate cases where people have come in with allergic reactions, but it seemed they were antibiotic reactions ? not to the actual prawns," Mr Flynn said.

"It is quite a concern, because if there are these antibiotics in there then ... it lowers your resistance to antibiotics when you need them."

Reports in recent years that high levels of antibiotics have been found in imported prawns were dismissed as scaremongering by Food Standards Australia and New Zealand (FSANZ).

FSANZ spokesperson Lydia Buchtmann said yesterday that although minute levels of nitrofurans, a type of antibiotic, had been detected in imported prawns in the past, none had been found recently.

"Next week we are actually releasing a report which was done on 60 types of imported and local seafood, testing for 56 different types of residues, including antibiotics, and we didn't find any," Ms Buchtmann said.

Former Iluka resident and restaurateur Carolyn Kerr said her restaurant, Something Out of the Blue, near Caloundra in Queensland, only used wild prawns because of health concerns.

"I've been researching this for the past six months and really our local, wild-caught seafood is the only thing which can't be genetically modified or have antibiotics in it," Ms Kerr said.

"The antibiotics are used over there to stop bacteria growing in the water supply in horrible conditions, and they're often built under chicken farms. I mean, why would you want to eat that?"

Ballina Fishermen's Co-op manager George Robinson said the retail outlet supplied both local king prawns and imported product.

"Our king prawns are brought in from Ballina waters by ocean trawler, so they are a safe bet," he said.

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