March 1, 2013 — The problem of mislabeled fish sold to American consumers has been the subject of many investigative news reports in recent years. Although such fraud continues to gain attention, the problem persists. As much as 50-percent of seafood offered on restaurant menus is not the species listed, according to the New York Times, Boston Globe, Los Angeles Times and, most recently, Fox News.
February 19, 2013 — U.S. Senators from Arkansas, Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi urged the Obama Administration to enforce U.S. trade laws and protect American catfish growers from an increasing flood of low-cost Asian imports.
Concerns over the safety of Asian imports are not limited to here in the United States. In recent years, some Australian states and territories have passed legislation to require restaurants to identify whether the seafood they serve is Australian-sourced or imported. Consumers’ support for such labeling and their preference for local seafood has led to a call for national country of origin labeling (COOL) for all seafood served in Australia’s restaurants.
China’s fish farms, which produce 70 percent of the world’s aquaculture, are having increasing problems with tilapia production due to disease, poor water quality and overuse of antibiotics. Since the United States is the largest single market for Chinese tilapia, consumers should look at the country of origin of tilapia sold in supermarkets and ask restaurants where their tilapia comes from.
With a total of 70 FDA Import Refusal actions during the year 2012, Asian farmed tilapia led all refusal actions against white fish species often substituted for U.S. Farmed-Raised Catfish. During the year, chronic, decade-long problems continued with imported channel catfish (28 refusals, with 26 Chinese-sourced) as well as imported pangasius (17 refusals).
“As we look forward to a new year, let’s remember the value of healthy, domestic aquaculture producers who provide safe, high-quality products for our nation’s consumers,” said Roger Barlow, president of The Catfish Institute. “Our U.S. Farm-Raised Catfish industry accounts for 60% of all domestically farmed seafood, generates $300 million annually for American farmers, and contributes $1.2 billion each year to our economy.”
The Catfish Institute continued its promotion of U.S. Farm-Raised Catfish at the 2012 Boston International Seafood Show, held March 11-13, 2012. The annual trade show brings together a global audience of 16,000 seafood buyers and more than 800 exhibitors – the largest event of its kind.
The Catfish Farmers of America is urging Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack to enact provisions of the 2008 Farm Bill approved by Congress ensuring that all catfish products – domestic and imported — meet the health and safety standards that Americans have come to expect from USDA regulations and inspections of beef, poultry and pork. […]