Did you ever stop come wonder just how we all gained so shrimp-crazed in the unified States? ~ all, the curvy crustacean is the most widely consumed seafood in the country, v an annual consumption level the 4.4 pounds per person. Yet who was the first person to decision to break the head and also tail turn off of a shrimp, scrape out its pooper, boil it, peel off its shell, and also dip the chilled, butchered carcass into ketchup and horseradish?


Shrimp"s rise to importance in the American diet might have begun in an unlikely way, as a type of tongue-in-cheek sneer at American Prohibition in the 1920s. Through the ban on alcohol in complete swing, lonely bartenders and restaurateurs were left through nothing to do yet gaze at every one of those north martini glasses, which were no longer filled through delicious, ice-cold gin. Instead, entrepreneurs began serving a "shrimp cocktail," lining the unused vessels through boiled shrimp and also a spicy sauce made through ketchup, lemon juice, and hot sauce. Long after the amendment banning alcohol sales to be repealed, our national fascination with the kitschy food endured.

You are watching: How bad is shrimp for you

It"s not all fun and also games for shrimp eaters, however. A devotion to eat shrimp come with an ext than a couple of downsides, indigenous health-related problems, to eco-friendly concerns, to human being rights violations. Let"s take it a look in ~ what you should know before you take one more bite.


*
Instagram
You might not think much about the dietary effects of shrimp, even as you"re mowing with a pound-and-a-half that peel-and-eat. After all, nothing that tiny could possibly be poor for you, right?

While shrimp are naturally super low in calories, through a medium shrimp containing just seven measly calories, you deserve to eat a dozen while adding only 84 calories to your complete daily intake. In fact, you"re probably consuming almost as numerous calories v the cocktail sauce you"re dipping the shrimp in. 


But here"s other that might give you pause if you"re worried about your heart: regardless of their little size, shrimp are weirdly high in cholesterol. According to Healthline, "a tiny serving the 3.5 ounces of shrimp supplies about 200 milligrams of cholesterol. For human being at high risk for heart disease, that quantities to a full day"s allotment. For anyone else, 300 milligrams is the limit."

In despite the of those high numbers, some research suggests that due to the fact that shrimp are so short in total fat and also contain no saturated fat, a shrimp-heavy diet may actually be healthier in its entirety than, say, an egg-based diet. The cholesterol numbers alone shouldn"t dissuade friend from knocking out a shrimp cocktail indigenous time to time.


*
Shutterstock
Shrimp fisheries in the United states are clean, well-regulated, and safe. Unfortunately, if you"re eat shrimp, it"s likely been imported indigenous a place where that just isn"t the case. 

92 percent the the shrimp consumed in the unified States comes from nations where the sector has tiny or no regulation, including Thailand, Vietnam, and India. And also because the U.S. Maintains the most open marketplace for sketchy shrimp, we regularly import the discards from the european Union and also Japan in ~ rock-bottom prices.


So what"s wrong with that all-you-can-eat fried shrimp platter that prices less 보다 a slice of pizza? since of the questionable problems in which shrimp imported from some nations is raised and also processed, shrimp that arrives on ours shores may incorporate some quite scary toxins, including trace level of cancer-causing prohibition antibiotics, legal antibiotics, pesticides, and also other chemistry that have no business being in her body. In a arbitrarily test performed by alphabet News and Texas tech University which examined 30 samples the imported shrimp purchased in ~ the supermarket, two samples (both farm-raised) native India and also Thailand "tested hopeful for nitrofuranzone, an antibiotic that"s a recognized carcinogen, at levels 28 and also 29 times greater than those permitted by the FDA. One more antibiotic, chloramphenical, to be detected at level 150 times the legal border to be banned in food production in the U.S. Due to the fact that of feasible severe side results such together aplastic anemia and leukemia."


*
Getty Images
Farming shrimp rather of catching them in the wild might be efficient, and it certainly helps keep expenses low, which is great... IF YOU hate THE PLANET. Shrimp farming in Thailand, Ecuador, Indonesia, China, Mexico, and Vietnam (the leading shrimp-farming countries) has caused the destruction of as much as 80 percent the the mangroves in those countries, as they space clearcut come make means for our seemingly ever-increasing appetite because that farmed shrimp.


What"s the difficulty with cutting under a few dumb old swamp trees, to pave the way for more sweet, sweet shrimp? According to Prevention, "Mangrove forests absorb and also trap more climate-changing carbon dioxide than any other ecosystem ~ above the planet, consisting of rainforests. Mangroves also serve together nursery locations for other ocean creatures, and they help keep shores secure by to reduce flooding throughout storms." 

So by all means... Save cutting under the mangroves, as long as rising temperatures, fatality by tsunami, and dead fish don"t seem favor they"ll affect your quality of life too much.


*
Getty Images
In addition to the destruction of the mangroves (a prime breeding ground for many varieties of fish), shrimp production can dramatically affect fish populations in 2 additional significant ways.

Wild-caught shrimp is regularly harvested through trawling, the process by which giant nets room dragged along the ocean floor come scoop up as many shrimp together possible. That"s kind of like recording a field mouse by burn your whole backyard to the ground. While these nets may scoop up plenty of shrimp, they likewise tend come scoop up every little thing else, in what fishermen refer to together "bycatch," and the remainder of us describe as turtles, dolphins, fish, and sharks. According to The new York Times, because that every lb of shrimp caught, 3 to 15 pounds that other maritime life additionally ends increase in those nets.


So if trawling because that shrimp kills many other things, too, doesn"t it make much more sense to farm them in a controlled environment? no so, according to PETA. "Because that takes as much as 3 pounds the wild-caught fish come feed and also produce a solitary pound the farmed shrimp, fish populaces are plummeting," castle say.


*
Getty Images
And not just any type of slavery — son slavery. Despite attempts through the government in Thailand to curb the human rights abuses that seem to walk hand-in-hand v the shrimping industry, a 2018 short article by The Guardian indicates the the instance hasn"t boosted much.


"Forced labor is routine," according to Brad Adams, director of Human legal rights Watch in Asia. "The employees we interviewed defined being trafficked on to ships, trapped in work they couldn"t leave, physical abuse, absence of food, lengthy hours and also awful functioning conditions. The worst thing for plenty of of them was not being paid — the mental harm and final indignity was the hardest to bear."

In its original investigation of the Thai shrimping industry, The Guardian described "horrific conditions, including 20-hour shifts, constant beatings, torture and execution-style killings. Some to be at sea because that years; part were regularly available methamphetamines to keep them going. Some had seen fellow slaves murdered in prior of them."


While Thailand proceeds to work-related on its shrimping enslavement problem, it seems favor the least we have the right to do together American consumer is protect against imported shrimp that lists Thailand together its country of origin.


The imported farmed shrimping industry continues to be very loosely regulated, and also where there"s a absence of regulations, you need to expect that even some the the most simple facts about the product are regularly misrepresented. In a examine by Oceana, an ocean conservation group, researchers found a staggering quantity of shrimp fraud across the country. 


The research reports: "DNA testing confirmed that 30 percent that the 143 shrimp commodities tested indigenous 111 grocery store stores and restaurants to be misrepresented. Oceana also found that consumers space often provided with little information about the shrimp castle purchase, including where and also how it was captured or farmed, making it difficult, if no impossible, for them come make informed choices." This method you might be unknowingly eat shrimp created in a farm that supplies antibiotics, pesticides, and other harmful chemicals.

As consumers, there"s not much we can do to avoid buying imported shrimp that is perhaps mislabeled. Until the industry gets its action together, it may be easier to stop imported shrimp altogether.


In addition to the legal and also illegal antibiotics found in samples the farmed shrimp imported native Thailand, Vietnam, or India, the bite-sized crustaceans can also harbor many strains of viruses or other bacteria. Part of the problem lies in the farming technique — overloaded pools are overstuffed through shrimp, and also a sludge that fecal matter and also excess food can build up and also decay. This paves the way for the breeding of nasty viruses and also bacteria the can damage entire colonies, and in turn, make customers sick. Consumer Reports tested 284 packages the frozen life shrimp and found 60 percent contaminated v bacteria including E. Coli and vibrio, i m sorry can cause food poisoning, diarrhea, dehydration, or even death.


Think the FDA is walk to defend you from these pathogens? Astonishingly, the Food and Drug Administration only tests around 2 percent of every imported seafood, which method that there"s no method of understanding if her delicious appetizer could make you sick until it"s lot too late.


If the fish farms themselves sound nice gross, things don"t get much better once you move right into the "packing and processing" part of the overseas shrimp industry. According come a 2012 report by Bloomberg, the problems in many of these packing framework is downright disgusting. 


At one handling facility situated in Vietnam, for example, reporters discovered sweltering factory floors littered through garbage and refuse, through clouds of paris buzzing around, and also shrimp the was gift stored at improper temperature in filthy plastic tubs. To make matters worse, the shrimp chin was frequently packed in ice cream made native the neighborhood tap water, which had been designated by public health and wellness authorities together unsafe because of microbial contamination, requiring that the water it is in boiled before drinking. This way that also if the farming procedure itself was for sure (it wasn"t), the shrimp might be further contaminated with bacteria indigenous the local water supply.


Okay, so much we"ve talked around how the abroad farmed fish sector is creating sketchy shrimp elevated in filthy conditions, that might contain countless toxins, pathogens, and antibiotics, so it seems favor a many the blame for shrimp being gross deserve to be attributed come the problems in i m sorry they were raised. However let"s also pause because that a minute to consider what shrimp essentially are: Scavenging bottom-feeders the eat anything lock find.


Wild shrimp in the ocean eat plant matter, clams, snails, dead fish, crabs, worms, and any other decaying organic matter they find that"s little enough come fit into their tiny shrimpy mouths, consisting of other smaller shrimp. This gave humanity the enough heebie-jeebies to lead some civilization religions come prohibit their consumption, top top the an easy spiritual structure that they room "unclean."

No matter your faith, you have to admit the devoting a large part of your diet to an pet that spends most of the life cycle eat the rotten bits the other pets seems a tiny strange.

See more: " Heaviest Woman In The World Before And After, Carol Yager


Quick: Close her eyes, and shot to imagine what a shrimp looks prefer swimming in the ocean, prior to we rip off their heads, tails, and legs, and arrange lock artfully approximately a dish of chill cocktail sauce. It"s hard to imagine what they look like when they"re swim around, life their tiny lives, isn"t it?


That might be miscellaneous of a blessing. See, shrimp aren"t cute and cuddly. In fact, researcher from England"s National Oceanography Centre have found a brand-new kind of shrimp that hunts in swarms, wicker the seas for dead sea creatures and stripping dead body clean — even whale carcasses.

In an experiment, researchers placed a whole pig carcass into a stole cage (to protect it from sharks, and because science can be terrifying), basically simply to check out what would certainly happen and also film the results. In the video"s description, one researcher explains the carcass together being spanned in a tiny species of shrimp within minutes, which "rapidly became several centimeters thick on the body and entered the carcass via the orifices, eat it from the inside out. The amphipods became so plenty of that they covered the whole cage and also bars and competitively exclude, all various other arthropods."