The Food Standards Agency (FSA) has received the results of tests on a number of products of animal origin from China and South East Asia. 

The Agency began these tests as a result of concerns about a lack of control on the use of veterinary drugs in  China. The latest results show further residues of illegal and unacceptable drug residues.

Illegal residues of the veterinary medicine chloramphenicol were found in samples of Royal Jelly, normally sold in capsule form, at similar levels to those recently found in honey. Independent scientific experts agreed that there was only an extremely low risk to public health through the consumption of products with residues at these low levels.

Given the low risk, the FSA is not advising against the consumption of Royal Jelly, but is calling for a withdrawal of Chinese and other Royal Jelly products, unless they meet legal requirements.

Further test results have also been received on two samples of Chinese rabbit meat. One is clear of all veterinary medicines and the other tested positive for residues of a pesticide. The levels were extremely low and while undesirable are not illegal and pose a negligible public health risk.

Given the low risk, the FSA is not advising against the consumption of Chinese rabbit products, nor calling for any product withdrawals.

Test results have also been received on warm water prawns and shrimps from SE Asia (Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia, India and Bangladesh). The test results revealed that 16 out of the 77 samples tested positive for illegal and unacceptable residues of nitrofuran drugs. These drugs are no longer permitted in the European Union for use in food producing animals. This is because of concerns including a possible increased risk of cancer in humans through long-term consumption.

Given the possible risk, the FSA is advising against the consumption of these particular batches of shrimps and prawns. It is also calling for them to be withdrawn and recalled from sale. The companies involved have been advised  of  the results and are cooperating. This advice does not concern cold water prawns and shrimps commonly used in the UK.

Details of the affected shrimp and prawn products, most of which have been on sale in major high street supermarkets, are listed below. The FSA is not advising against the general consumption of prawns and shrimps from South East Asia. However the Agency has alerted the EU Commission to these findings. The Commission has agreed to consider this issue on an EU wide basis to prevent further contaminated food entering the Community. The FSA will be asking the independent Veterinary Residues Committee to include analyses for nitrofurans in the future testing programme for warm water shrimps and prawns.

Affected product details

Product: Raw peeled prawns
Brand name: Lyons
Retailer: Sainsburys
Country of origin where known: Unknown
Batch code: 0 85143  10031750
Best before: 26.10.03

Product: Cooked tiger prawns
Brand name: Lyons
Retailer: Iceland
Country of origin where known: Thailand
Batch code: 0 84144  10031990
Best before: APR 2003

Product: Raw headless tiger prawns
Brand name: Tesco fish counter
Retailer: Tesco
Country of origin where known: Unknown
Batch code: Unknown
Best before: 13.2.02

Product: Prawn ring
Brand name: Party bites
Retailer: Tesco
Country of origin where known: Thailand
Batch code: 1300 2
Best before: 30 Mar 03

Product: Cooked peeled tiger prawns
Brand name: Tesco
Retailer: Tesco
Country of origin where known: Thailand
Batch code: 1 340 Y
Best before: Sept 02

Product: King prawn ring
Brand name: Iceland
Retailer: Iceland
Country of origin where known: Thailand
Batch code: 1292 2
Best before: 30 Mar 03

Product: Tiger king prawns
Brand name: Lyons
Retailer: Iceland
Country of origin where known: Vietnam
Batch code: 083131  10028450 & 083134  10029113
Best before: Feb 03

Product: Seafood selection
Brand name: Safeway
Retailer: Safeway
Country of origin where known: Unknown
Batch code: 1155
Best before: Dec 02

Product: Tiger prawns
Brand name: Safeway
Retailer: Safeway
Country of origin where known: Unknown
Batch code: 2007
Best before: Jul 03

Product: Frozen shrimp
Brand name: Red Ribbon
Retailer: Lee Foods
Country of origin where known: Indonesia
Batch code: Unknown
Best before: Unclear - 25 Sept ?  freeze date - 25 Sept 1999

Product: Tiger king prawn ring
Brand name: Ocean Pearl
Retailer: Co-Op
Country of origin where known: Thailand
Batch code: 1259
Best before: Mar 03

Product: Cooked tiger prawns net 545g
Brand name: IQF
Retailer: Cam Seng
Country of origin where known: Unknown
Batch code: Unknown
Best before: 31.05.2003

Product: Prawns
Brand name: None
Retailer: Asia Supermarket
Country of origin where known: Unknown
Batch code: Unknown
Best before: Unknown

Product: Raw king prawns
Brand name: Safeway
Retailer: Safeway
Country of origin where known: Unknown
Batch code: 1247
Best before: Mar 03

Product: Raw fresh water prawns
Brand name: Lyons
Retailer: Makro
Country of origin where known: India & Bangladesh
Batch code: U/8  083144  10031918
Best before: Oct 03

Product: Fresh water king prawns
Brand name: Lyons
Retailer: Makro
Country of origin where known: India
Batch code: 082202  10034453
Best before: Jan 04