Is Catfish Safe To Eat?
March 19, 2011 - 07:59 PM
I disagree with a lot of what is going on in Austin right now, but this is a piece of legislation that I fully agree with. From now on when we eat catfish, I want to know where if came from. If the cafe can’t tell me, I will not eat it.
I have the same feeling about beef, vegetables and such. Anything food from China is automatically suspect to me and if labeled organic i really worry.
Buy your food from the USA and from a local farm family.
Is the Catfish You Eat Safe?
Saturday, March 19, 2011
Longview News Journal
By Glenn Hegar
Texans love their catfish batter-fried, blackened, or grilled. In fact, Texans eat more catfish than Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana and Mississippi combined. Most of it, about 70 percent, is consumed in restaurants.
Now, here’s what you probably didn’t know: Close to 80 percent of the seafood consumed in the United States is imported. Less than 2 percent of it ever gets inspected to ensure quality and safety, and even a smaller fraction is inspected in labs for toxic chemicals.
The small volume of catfish imports that is examined, however, reveals a big potential problem. Last year alone, 47 shipments of imported catfish or catfish-like species were the subject of FDA Import Refusal actions due to contamination or fraudulent labeling. Known carcinogens, such as malachite green, crystal violet and melamine, have been found in these shipments as well as salmonella. Still others were refused by inspectors for being “filthy” and “insanitary.”
A recent NBC “Today Show” investigative report revealed that catfish in Vietnam is being raised in dirty sewage water and pumped full of antibiotics and banned drugs to keep them alive, which in turn boosts production and drives down costs. Scientists contacted by the “Today Show” said, over time, eating this fish can cause cancer, anemia and even birth defects. Unfortunately, consumers can’t smell or taste some harmful chemicals; and cooking the fish does not remove the chemicals.
Ron Sparks, then-commissioner of agriculture in Alabama (one of the few states that tests imported seafood) found between 40 percent and 50 percent of the fish they have tested showed the presence of “chemicals so toxic to humans that they’ve been banned in all food.”
Public awareness of this problem is increasing thanks to media attention. Recent surveys reveal that 86 percent of Texans would support legislation requiring restaurants to inform customers whether they are serving imported catfish. This common sense solution to a very serious problem is the least we can do to help protect the health of Texas families, which is why I have filed Senate Bill 000 during this legislative session.
Restaurants have a right to run their businesses as they see fit within the law, and they have a right to serve imported catfish. But restaurant owners’ must ensure customer safety, which is why we require restaurants to submit to regular health inspections and place warnings on their menus about the dangers of eating raw or undercooked meat, fish or eggs.
The new health threat posed by imported catfish and the federal government’s lack of adequate inspections require us to act in the best interest of Texas by requiring restaurants to disclose whether they are serving imported catfish. Texans want to make informed decisions about the food they eat. They have a right to know. Providing them the necessary information is the least we can do. Until disclosure of imported catfish is required by law, I highly suggest you ask your local restaurant whether they are serving imported or domestic catfish.
State Sen. Glenn Hegar represents Texas 18th District and is a member of the Senate Agriculture & Rural Affairs Committee.