WASHNGTON — A proposal by Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) to repeal a law making all catfish safer for American consumers ignores numerous findings of banned substances in imported catfish products and favors inadequate food safety requirements, according to Catfish Farmers of America.
“It is stunning that Sen. McCain has chosen to protect importers and Vietnamese farmers over the health and safety of American citizens,” said Butch Wilson, newly elected president of the Catfish Farmers of America.
The U.S. Congress voted to move catfish inspections and regulation from the FDA to USDA as part of the 2008 Farm Bill.
A bill proposed by McCain and Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) would repeal the 2008 regulation.
In a statement announcing the bill, McCain alleged the "Food and Drug Administration hasn’t reported any safety or health problems with the Vietnamese imports.”
That is wrong, according to the CFA. The FDA has found in imported catfish from Vietnam and other nations potentially dangerous chemicals or drugs that are banned by the United States in farm-raised catfish, according to the FDA.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported last month a major criminal case of mislabeling and hazardous contaminants found in Vietnamese frozen catfish fillets imported by a seafood import company in McCain’s home state of Arizona, the CFA says. NOAA’s criminal investigation discovered that the Arizona company “bought Vietnamese catfish illegally imported into the U.S. labeled as sole,” which was then sold to approximately 65 different wholesale customers, including supermarkets and restaurants.
“There could be no better advertising for catfish than to have the USDA seal of approval stamped on the package,” said Wilson, adding that the law would apply to all U.S. farm-raised catfish as well as imported catfish. “We welcome the USDA oversight on our U.S. farm-raised catfish. Whether a food safety incident results from domestic or foreign fish, the impact is the same — consumer confidence in all catfish will evaporate.”
— Information from the Catfish Farmers of America