Pangasius debuts on U.S. top 10 list

The National Fisheries Institute of McLean, Va., on Tuesday released its top 10 list of America’s favorite seafood products in 2009.

The top eight spots on the list remained unchanged from 2008, with shrimp leading the way at 4.1 pounds per capita, more than one-quarter of the 15.8 pounds of seafood that the average American consumer enjoyed in 2009. Shrimp consumption remained steady from 2008 to 2009.

Canned tuna held on to the No. 2 spot at 2.5 pounds, which is 0.3 pounds less than the total recorded in 2008. Consumption of salmon, the No. 3-ranked species, increased from 1.84 pounds to 2.04 pounds per capita.

Alaska pollock came in at No. 4 at 1.454 pounds, up from 1.34 pounds in 2008. Tilapia is hot on its heels at No. 5, up slightly to 1.208 pounds. The next five spots belong to catfish (0.849 pounds), crab (0.594 pounds), cod (0.419 pounds) and clams (0.413 pounds.

The final spot revealed the only major surprise: pangasius, a catfish-like species farmed in Vietnam, made its debut on the top 10 list with 0.356 pounds consumed per capita.

Flatfish dropped out of the top 10 list, which made up more than 88 percent of total seafood consumption in the United States. Total consumption actually increased by 45 million pounds, or about 1 percent, but per-capita consumption declined because of population growth. Per-capita consumption reached 15.8 pounds last year, down from 16 pounds in 2008 and the lowest amount since 2002’s 15.6 pounds, according to figures the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration published on Friday.

“From a public health perspective it’s imperative that Americans eat more fish,” said Jennifer McGuire, NFI’s registered dietitian. “This is a message we expect to see front and center when federal health experts release the new dietary guidelines for Americans this year — the familiar food-pyramid program. While we anticipate hearing a lot about eating less salt and not as much saturated fat, when it comes to seafood more is better.”

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