October 10, 2014

Advocates Want OMB To Finalize Catfish Inspection Rule

Editor’s Note: If FSIS’s data on the health effects of the rule do not meet federal quality stanbdards, they can be challenged through the Data Quality Act.

From: Food Poisoning Bulletin

Food & Water Watch along with other organizations such as Consumer Federation of America and Center for Foodborne Illness Research and Prevention called on the Office of Management and Budget to finalizeĀ an inspection program for domestic and imported catfish. The USDA drafted a final rule on this matter back in 2008 but nothing has happened since then. The FDA currently regulates catfish. Domestic processors are currently inspected just once every 5 to 10 years; only 2% of imported catfish is inspected.

In 2013, Americans consumed more than 305 million pounds of catfish; about 78% of this is imported, with 95% of imported products coming from Vietnam. That country uses many animal drugs in aquaculture that are not approved in the U.S.; 32 drugs have been approved for use in Vietnam, as opposed to 7 approved in the Untied States. These foreign growers may use unapproved new animal drugs or chemicals to prevent or control fungal, viral, or bacterial issues that are not permitted for use in food animals in this country.


FSIS assessed the impact of applying this inspection program compared to the current regulations a few years ago, and found that the implementation would reduce 175,000 cancers, 91,800,000 exposures to antibiotics, and 23,280,000 exposures to heavy metals in American consumers. Imported catfish numbers have more than doubled since this assessment was conducted, so those numbers are much higher now.

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