Kings College London

Scientists Surprised To Find Traces Of Cocaine In UK Shrimp

We'd like to think that we know what's in our food.

GMO's, pesticides, and other forms of pollution are highly debated topics when it comes to what we eat.

Food that's freshest is normally the safest, but is that always the case?

Several countries have made an increased effort to run tests on their seafood in particular.

Unsplash | Sri Lanka

Things like chemical run off and contamination in lakes and oceans are quite common, not to mention the dangerously high levels of mercury in a lot of larger fish.

A recent scientific study on UK shrimp yielded some odd results.

Unsplash | Elle Hughes

The study, done by Kings College London and the University of Suffolk, found traces of illicit drugs and illegal pesticides in an array of UK wildlife.

In fact, illegal drugs were the highest detected substance.

Unsplash | AM FL

“As part of our ongoing work, we found that the most frequently detected compounds were illicit drugs," Dr. Thomas Miller of King's College explained, "including cocaine and ketamine and a banned pesticide, fenuron."

Out of the five samples tested, every single one of them contained traces of cocaine.

Unsplash | Lucas Vasques

Dr. Leon Barron from King's found the results of the study shocking:

Such regular occurrence of illicit drugs in wildlife was surprising. We might expect to see these in urban areas such as London, but not in smaller and more rural catchments.

The pesticides found in the shrimp were particularly unnerving.

Unsplash | Sandy Millar

"The presence of pesticides which have long been banned in the UK also poses a particular challenge," Barron continued, "As the sources of these remain unclear.”

I'm more than a little concerned about this.

That's a lot of cocaine, which could have potentially dangerous effects on people with varying health issues, specifically children and elderly people.

There is disagreement in the scientific community as to whether or not the levels of cocaine found in the shrimp are inherently harmful.

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Professor Nic Bury from the University of Suffolk explained that the issue needs further research:

Environmental health has attracted much attention from the public due to challenges associated with climate change and microplastic pollution.

Bury thinks that the study could potentially impact future legislation.

Unsplash | Hans Reniers

"The impact of ‘invisible’ chemical pollution (such as drugs) on wildlife health needs more focus in the UK," he continued, "As policy can often be informed by studies such as these."

Some people really didn't seem all that concerned.

Apparently we live in a society in which cocaine shrimp are more of a convenience than a disturbing discovery.

Others remarked that this study is only one of many environmental issues we currently face.

"Everyone will wait until fish are full of plastic and poison before they do anything," one twitter user wrote, "Then the fishing industry collapses, imagine how that would impact the world?"

The study was done in the UK, so we likely having nothing to worry about...right?

Still, I think I'll be playing it safe when it comes to my seafood for the next little while. Better safe than sorry!