Pharmacist warns on Asian prawns
By EMMA CORNFORD
FRESH prawns often go hand in hand with typical Clarence Valley Christmas Day celebrations, but consumers are being warned to think carefully about what type they buy this festive season.
Grafton chemist George Flynn told The Daily Examiner he has treated people who seemed to have an allergic reaction.
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," he said.
"It's 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're 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.
"Of course if anyone did have an allergic reaction we would urge them to consult their medical practitioner ... but we're talking in such minuscule amounts here that I don't think would be enough to induce an allergic reaction."
Ms Buchtmann said regular samples of prawns and other seafood had been taken each year for around 20 years and there had been no illegal amounts of residues found.
But former Iluka resident and restaurateur Carolyn Kerr said her restaurant, Something Out of 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.
Clarence Valley Fishermen's Co-op chairman Barry Cason said although the industry had been told that none or minuscule amounts of antibiotic residues had been found in imported prawns, consumers should be careful.
"AQIS (Australian Quarantine Inspection Service) are very tough on our industry when we're exporting, but you have to question whether they're as tough on imports," he said.