US raises concern over Chinese imports
As imported Chinese wheat reportedly takes the blame
for the recent deaths of dozens of American pets, new concerns have risen over
the safety of Asian-grown catfish imported to the United States for human
consumption reports Fish Farmer magazine.
US Government officials and US Farm-Raised Catfish
producers have long been cautious of imported Asian catfish-like species that
continue to flood our nation's seafood industry. Little, if any, government
regulation enables Asian importers to ship food products, such as catfish or
wheat, with potentially dangerous additives into the US.
"This pet food
incident has shined a light on an issue that already exists, and that is the
fact that there are many contaminated products coming from China, not just
wheat" says Dick Stevens, president of Consolidated Catfish Companies, a catfish
processor based in Isola, Miss. Roger Barlow, executive vice president of
Catfish Farmers of America, referred to federal reports over the last several
months that show many shipments of catfish-like products from China and Vietnam
had been refused entry into the US because of banned and potentially dangerous
chemicals and antibiotics found in the
"Imports of Chinese catfish are increasing,
with overall Asian import numbers for February 2007 up some 456%, and those from
China up 1,055%. The concern now is that tainted imported catfish may be
reaching consumers' dinner tables" says Barlow.
According to a recent report
by the Associated Press, the FDA has sharply reduced its inspections of foreign
food and today physically examines only 1.3% of all food imported into the
United States. According to one American catfish farmer, this is
"I don't understand how unregulated, imported food products can
continue to be offered to the public," said George Smelley, a catfish farmer and
processor with operations in Alabama, Arkansas and Mississippi. "My concern is
that the current pet food problem could be repeated on the human level with
citizens that are consuming mostly poorly inspected imported food
Federal legislation enacted in 2002 established Country of
Origin Labeling (COOL) requiring grocery stores to list where products are
grown. However, no such requirement exists for the restaurant industry, which
accounts for more than 70% of catfish consumption - both imported and domestic.
Consumers are encouraged to look for the US Farm-Raised Catfish seal in grocery
stores and to demand to know where their fish is from at
restaurants.To receive the AllAboutFeed newsletter click here.
To comment, login here
Or register to be able to comment.