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USDA's FSIS to hold meetings on catfish inspections

WASHINGTON and STONEVILLE — The USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service will hear public comments tomorrow in Washington, D.C., on the proposed regulations for increasing catfish inspections and regulations.

The most critical decision by FSIS will be whether all or only some catfish will be covered under the new regulation shifting responsibility for the inspection and regulation of catfish from the FDA to the USDA.

“We support the USDA’s stronger and broader option which would include all catfish species raised for consumption,” said Butch Wilson, president of the Catfish Farmers of America.

The second option is to adopt a “narrow” definition that would give USDA authority over only catfish from the Ictalauridae branch of the catfish family, which mainly includes the channel catfish raised in the United States and comprises only a small fraction of imported catfish. That narrow definition would exclude most Asian catfish species raised for export and sold as Pangasius, basa, tra or swai.

“Those limited inspections would create even greater safety concerns and confusion for consumers,” said Wilson.

“We have invested heavily in food safety, but we know that any supplier — whether domestic or foreign — can destroy consumer confidence in our product with just one food safety incident,” said Wilson. “We need every fish on every plate to be held to the same standard for health and safety.”

The FSIS meeting in Washington, D.C., will be held from 9 a.m. to noon in the USDA Jefferson Auditorium.

A second FSIS meeting in Stoneville is scheduled for May 26 from 9 a.m. to noon in the Charles Capps Center at the Delta Research and Extension Center.

Source: Catfish Farmers of America

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