The Japanese authorities have set the maximum `ethoxyquin' residue limit (MRL) in imported crustaceans, including farmed shrimp imported from countries like India and Vietnam, at 0.2 ppm.
The ministry, at its meeting on 29 November 2013, agreed to peg MRL limit for shrimps at 0.2 per cent and notified its decision on 2 December 2013 for public comments in Japan, besides placed it in the WTO.
Giving this information, Marine Products Export Development Authority chairman Leena Nair said on Tuesday that it took nearly 18 months to convince Japan's ministry of health, labour and welfare of the need to relax MRL norms for Indian shrimp.
It may be recalled that the import inspection authorities of Japan had suddenly enforced the default level of 0.01ppm for `ethoxyquin' in shrimp from India and Vietnam without any reason in August 2012.
The matter was taken up with the Japanese ministry of health, labour and welfare (MHLW), METI and ministry of foreign affairs, by India's ministry of commerce and industry, MPEDA and the Embassy of India in Tokyo citing the lack of scientific reasoning behind their action. Subsequently, the then minister of health, labour and welfare referred the matter to the Food Safety Commission (FSC) under the cabinet secretariat to asses and recommend accepted daily intake (ADI) of `ethoxyquin' in shrimps.
The issue was also taken up at almost all bilateral meetings between India and Japan, including at the prime minister level. Subsequently, the subcommittee of Food Safety Commission fixed the ADI for `ethoxyquin' as 0.0083 mg /kg body weight in its meeting on 19 November 2013.
Meanwhile, the imports of shrimp from India has shown an increase of 20.10 per cent in quantity and 61.79 per cent in value on a year-on-year basis for the period January-November 2013.
The increased intake in the country is attributed to short supply of shrimps from other major shrimp farming countries due to the Early Mortality Syndrome (EMS) disease and increased confidence in Indian farmed shrimp, especially the white leg (Litopenaeus vannamei) variety.
Total shrimp imports from the country, up to November 2013, stood at 29,153 tonnes worth 29,651 million yen.
India was the third largest shrimp exporter to Japan during 2013, after Vietnam and Indonesia, in that order.
However, India became the largest supplier of frozen shrimp to Japanese market since September 2013. Overall seafood imports from India also showed an increase of 44.15 per cent in value during the same period, though the quantity showed a slight decline of 0.17 per cent.