Shrimp falling out of plastic packaging
The 2 Chemicals To Avoid With Packaged Shrimp
Chemicals such as sodium bisulfite and sodium tripolyphosphate (STPP) may enhance the look of packaged shrimp, but there's a price to pay in terms of health and budget.
Sodium bisulfite is added to shrimp to reduce discoloration in the shells, but sometimes even a little sodium bisulfite can prompt a bad reaction in people sensitive to sulfites.
Asthmatics are especially sensitive to sulfites and may have bad reactions, from wheezing to full-on anaphylaxis shock. They can also cause skin and gastrointestinal sensitivity.
STPP makes peeled shrimp look firmer and shinier and increases their weight by as much as 10%, making them more costly. The chemical rinse can also cause them to be less healthy.
Although deemed safe to use by the FDA in specified amounts, STPP affects some people negatively, prompting allergic and/or respiratory reactions.
STPP also contains phosphorous, which can cause kidney and/or cardiovascular issues. In large quantities, it can also alter the central nervous system and cause digestive issues.
Frozen shrimp, which accounts for the vast majority of shrimp sold in America, is usually treated with both chemicals, and even "fresh" shrimp are often simply defrosted.
Look for domestic or wild-caught shrimp with only shrimp and water listed as ingredients. Black ends on shrimp fins often signify no chemicals were added to beautify them.