How terrible for me are these farmed shrimp going to be?
November 9, 2011 8:29 PM   Subscribe

Safety of eating thailand farmed shrimp from costco?

I feel terrible. I NEVER buy farmed seafood. Until now, I guess. I bought a bag of frozen shrimp (kirkland signature brand) from costco that says that are farmed and a product of thailand.

According to everything I've heard and read, farmed shrimp (especially ones from Asia) are often very full of all sorts of the worst chemicals.

I hate wasting food though. Can anybody who knows more about this tell me just how bad for me this stuff is? Thanks!
posted by skjønn to Food & Drink (11 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I'm not dead yet. Costco sells farmed shrimp to lots of places--you've probably eaten it and not known at all.
posted by Ideefixe at 8:32 PM on November 9, 2011

I'm all about wild-caught seafood. But in terms of wastefulness/damage and whatnot, you've already bought the shrimp. You've already given your money to support the farms that do this. If you through the shrimp out, you're adding to landfills. If you eat the shrimp, you're ingesting chemicals. One bag of shrimp is hardly going to have enough chemicals in it to harm you.
posted by DoubleLune at 8:51 PM on November 9, 2011

*throw, not through
posted by DoubleLune at 8:51 PM on November 9, 2011

Seafood Watch is vague on this one. It says: "Consumers should 'Avoid' imported farmed shrimp unless they can be certain that the shrimp is from farms in Thailand that use fully recirculating systems, which are a 'Good Alternative.' " I doubt the package specifically states how the shrimp were farmed.

Personally, I'd say eat them. I almost fully trust Costco (they go to great lengths to make sure their products are high quality) and if I were going to buy frozen shrimp anywhere, it'd be there.
posted by gchucky at 8:53 PM on November 9, 2011 [2 favorites]

Costco and Trader Joe's are the only places I get frozen shrimp from. Otherwise I just wait until I visit my parents and some locally caught (coastal Georgia, what what!). Both places source their shrimp from Thai farms, but I've found them both to be high quality and tasty. And, like Ideefixe says, I'm not dead yet. For what it's worth, I prefer Costco over TJ's on this one.
posted by phunniemee at 9:14 PM on November 9, 2011

Think about how many packages were in your Costco. Now think about Costco's famed supply chain management, and their ability to sell out of whatever they bring in. That's a crapload of people who buy shrimp at Costco, right? And you haven't heard of a sudden epidemic of them dropping dead from dread shrimp disorder?

One bag of shrimp is not going to hurt you. If it did, there'd be recalls and outrage, and there isn't. It may not be the most bestest thing you ever put in your body, but really, it won't be a problem.

Of course, neither is throwing one bag away going to hurt the environment.

So do whatever you like.
posted by jacquilynne at 9:43 PM on November 9, 2011 [3 favorites]

Taras Gresco, in his book Bottomfeeder, does a whole chapter on farmed shrimp. He doesn't paint a pretty picture. There's a summary here. One of the things that stuck with me after reading the book is his pointing out that sometimes when people think they have developed a shrimp allergy, they are actually reacting to the chemicals used to clean the tanks and treat the shrimp.

The Monterey Bay Aquarium is more ambivalent.

Regardless, I tend to agree that throwing them out is just a waste. Try a few, if they taste good and you feel fine, just eat them.
posted by looli at 9:45 PM on November 9, 2011

Well you are eating the tiny garbage men and women of the sea, so you're going to have to overcome that hurdle from the get go. In all seriousness however, you are more likely to make yourself sick from the shrimp than Costco's farm sources. Bake them in salty garlic butter with some lemon juice, enjoy with some white wine.
posted by oceanjesse at 9:45 PM on November 9, 2011

Costco is on the cutting edge of best practices in seafood retailing. They have a comprehensive agreement with the World Wildlife Fund to inspect and certify the shrimp farms in Thailand meet the Shrimp Aquaculture Dialogue’s draft standards for shrimp farming. In terms of seafood buying, they are as good as it gets.

Trade publication on Costco's practices
WWF post on their work with Costco

I'm more comfortable with Costco's seafood program than anyone else's. If they can one day fix the mess that is salmon farming, I will be astonished -- but until then they do bring in great wild Alaskan sides.
posted by Lame_username at 1:34 AM on November 10, 2011 [9 favorites]

Just a note on the chemicals (that might be) in the shrimp. Saying that "no one's dead yet" doesn't really mean anything, because the chemicals aren't the type that would kill/sicken you immediately -- they're likely endocrine disruptors, which could cause cancer and other negative things twenty years from now.
posted by kylej at 7:57 AM on November 10, 2011 [1 favorite]

I say eat them, wait a few days, then read this. Warning: it will ruin farmed shrimp in general and Red Lobster in particular for you, and it won't make you crazy about wild shrimp either.
posted by LowellLarson at 12:23 PM on November 10, 2011

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