Catfish that live in glass houses

This week’s GAO report on imported seafood said a number of things and made a number of recommendations that by in large make sense. The report didn’t break much new ground because the Food Safety Modernization Act, released in January, has FDA already working on much of what the report suggested they work on. So, while there was some hand wringing and hyperbolic headlines it wasn’t quite the damning tome some might imagine. It’s hard to be too exercised about new recommendations that the FDA has actually been working on for five months.

But never ones to miss an opportunity to tend to the fires of its scorched earth policy the special interest catfish lobby took this opportunity to bash imports and specifically rail against residues from unapproved drugs apparently found in some imports. For starters the catfish lobby is 100 percent right on this issue—one positive sample is one too many. If it’s unapproved it should be in the product — period.

But here’s where the whiskered head of hypocrisy swims over and bites the catfish lobby. You see, while they’re out damning imports for positive test results the USDA’s own draft rule on catfish regulation notes right there on pages 10438 and 10439 of the Federal Register that in April 2008 through March 2009 the Food Safety and Inspection Service tested 733 “catfish” samples for “Unapproved Antimicrobials” and guess what they found? “Five domestic samples had confirmed positive results… and… five imported samples had confirmed positive results… Detects were at levels below regulatory concern.”

You know what they say about catfish who live in glass houses, right?


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