Journal of agricultural and food chemistry

Investigation into the possible natural occurence of semicarbazide in Macrobrachium rosenbergii prawns.

PMID 21299238


In the past year there has been an increased incidence in Belgium of cases of positive semicarbazide (SEM) tests in imported freshwater Macrobrachium rosenbergii prawns, seemingly indicating the possible abuse of nitrofurazone, a banned antimicrobial agent. This was in contrast to all other European countries where no significant increase in SEM-positive samples was detected. A possible explanation for this discrepancy between Belgium and the other European Union member states could be the fact that only in Belgium were whole prawns (meat + shell) analyzed for the presence of tissue-bound metabolites of nitrofurans, whereas in the other countries only the edible part (meat) of these prawns was analyzed. To investigate the possible natural occurrence of SEM in freshwater prawns, an animal trial was set up. In this experiment two groups of 10 juvenile M. rosenbergii, previously raised under standardized laboratory conditions, were stocked into two separate aquaria, a control group under reference conditions (no addition of nitrofurazone) and a group exposed to a daily dose of 50 mg of nitrofurazone L(-1) of culture water. Results of this animal trial proved that SEM naturally occurs in M. rosenbergii prawns but that at the current minimum required performance limit (MRPL) no tissue-bound SEM can be found in the meat of nontreated animals. In addition to this animal trial, commercial samples of other crustacean species, the shell and meat of which were analyzed separately, were also analyzed for the presence of SEM.