Chloramphenicol Found In
Crabmeat, Honey, Animal Feed

From Patricia Doyle, PhD
Recently, Chloramphenicol was found in honey in Louisiana and also found in animal feed in Europe. Chloramphenicol SHOULD NEVER be found in either the environment or in products.
Patricia Doyle
A ProMED-mail post ProMED-mail is a program of the International Society for Infectious Diseases
Date: Wed 7 Jul 2004
From: ProMED-mail
Source: FDA Talk Paper [edited]
FDA seizes adulterated crabmeat in Louisiana containing chloramphenicol
At the request of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), USA marshals seized approximately 1144 cases of Bernard's brand frozen crab meat, while it was being held for sale at Southern Cold Storage Company, Baton Rouge, LA, USA, on 2 Jul 2004, because it was adulterated with an unapproved food additive, chloramphenicol. The marshals seized approximately 304 cases of pasteurized special white crab meat, 200 cases of pasteurized special claw crab meat, and 640 cases of pasteurized jumbo lump crab meat. Imported from China, the frozen crab meat has an estimated value of USD 86 944.
In accordance with the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, food products that contain chloramphenicol are considered adulterated, and are not permitted to be sold in, or imported into, the United States.
Chloramphenicol is a broad-spectrum antibiotic drug used to treat life- threatening infections in humans, usually when other alternatives are not available. The use of this antibiotic is limited because of its potentially life-threatening side-effect: idiosyncratic aplastic anemia. For the very small percentage of the population susceptible to this side-effect, exposure to chloramphenicol could be serious, or, even life-threatening. Because of the current uncertainty regarding the dose-response relationship between chloramphenicol ingestion and aplastic anemia, it is not possible to define a safe level for the presence of this antibiotic in food products.
In Jun 2002 (see below), FDA announced increased sampling of imported seafood for the presence of chloramphenicol. This action was taken because some states, and other countries, had detected low levels of chloramphenicol in imported shrimp and crayfish. The agency will continue to detain or seize any food imports that contain chloramphenicol to ensure that this product is not released for human or animal consumption in the United States.
-- ProMED-mail
The following discussion is extracted from the moderation of the 2002 ProMED posting regarding chloramphenicol in honey and was written by moderators MPP and LL:
"Chloramphenicol was a commonly used antibacterial agent in the 1950s and, like other antimicrobials in use today, was commonly used in situations where no specific antibiotic is required (such as in a viral respiratory infection). Bone marrow toxicity was recognized to be associated with chloramphenicol in 2 ways: (1) a dose-dependent reversible marrow depression that disappears when the drug is stopped, and (2), an idiosyncratic reaction that causes irreversible marrow failure (albeit quite rarely) that is not dose-dependent and may occur at quite low drug levels. It is this latter idiosyncratic form that is of concern in this scenario. It should be noted that cases of the idiosyncratic reaction have been described following the use of chloramphenicol eye drops. - Mod. LL
In Jan 2002, chloramphenicol was detected in animal feed in Europe (see ProMED- mail postings listed below). This contamination was traced to fish/seafood products coming from the Far East. There is a commentary from the Chinese Ministry of Agriculture on the "Draft Report for the Residue Control in Live Animals and Animal Products by EC Inspection Mission to China" at
It mentions that chloramphenicol was discontinued from the Chinese Veterinary Pharmarcopoeia in 2000. An investigation into the contamination of shrimp revealed. 'The prawn-peeling workers had not worn protective gloves in the past, causing an itchy symptom on their hands, so some of the workers used chloromycetin (chloramphenicol) to treat their hands in order to avoid the itching, and, as a result, the prawns were polluted.' - Mod MPP"
The 2002 FDA report regarding chloramphenicol testing in imported seafood contains this discussion: Until recently, the sensitivity of the methodology to detect chloramphenicol in shrimp could find the drug down to 5 parts per billion (ppb). Recently, Canada, and the European Union (EU), have refined their methods to detect even lower levels, and, have taken action on food products from China and Viet Nam found to be contaminated by chloramphenicol. The FDA has modified its methodology to confirm chloramphenicol levels in shrimp and crayfish to 1ppb and is further modifying the methods to detect 0.3 ppb, which will place the U.S. methodology in line with Canada and the EU.
The new methodology for testing for chloramphenicol to the level of 1 ppb will be used to test imported shrimp and crayfish that are suspected to contain chloramphenicol. FDA will detain, and refuse entry to, any product it identifies, and confirms, as containing chloramphenicol.
On 5-6 Jun 2002, a senior delegation of Chinese officials met with the FDA to discuss the issue of chloramphenicol residues in shrimp and crayfish. The delegation informed the FDA that, on 5 Mar 2002, China banned the use of chloramphenicol in animals and animal feeds. They also informed the FDA that they are initiating testing of shrimp, crayfish, and other animal-derived foods intended for export, to ensure the absence of chloramphenicol and other drug residues. The FDA and China exchanged information on testing methodologies. The FDA informed the Chinese officials that the Agency would take enforcement action against products found to be in violation. - Mod.LL
Patricia A. Doyle, PhD Please visit my "Emerging Diseases" message board at:
Zhan le Devlesa tai sastimasa
Go with God and in Good Health



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