Food (Safety) Fight
By: richard raymond
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Something smells fishy

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(The views and opinions expressed in this blog are strictly those of the author.)

Tomato--vegetable or fruit? Either way, itís produce and fits under the FDA regulations. Catfish---meat or produce? Was under FDA, now under USDA/FSIS. I guess its meat then, and falls under the Federal Meat Inspection Act (FMIA) of 1906 because of an Amendment tacked onto the Farm Bill of 2008. So why aren't tilapia, salmon, shrimp and all other sorts of fish and seafood considered meat under USDA/FSIS regulation?


That is the real question here, not the first two about tomatoes and catfish.

We have those who say this is a public health issue, and that we need to get the catfish industry -- both domestic and foreign exporters -- under FSIS regulations. As you all know, the FMIA requires daily inspection. When the farm bill gave catfish to FSIS, it basically said FSIS had 18 months to promulgate rules and regs for catfish that conform with the FMIA. And to write the regs, FSIS must show that there is a public health issue requiring the new regs to be put into place. What those rules will entail is simply a guess, but regular inspection will definitely be a big part of it.

But whatever the regs require for the domestic catfish industry, they will also require it for catfish exporters to the United States because our laws state that any country exporting meat, poultry, and egg products (and now catfish) must have an inspection system at least equivalent to ours. Those countries must undergo annual audits and 100 percent re-inspection by FSIS inspectors as they comes through one of the 140 or soimport houses located on our borders. This will be tough for most countries to accomplish.

I have heard that some countries raise chickens in cages above the fish ponds, letting the chicken litter be consumed by the fish.I recall a debate between FDA, USDA and industry about whether or not to continue to allow chicken litter in cattle feed in the next feed ban rule. So what is different about feeding chicken litter to fish vs. to cattle? Seems to me the only difference is some countries have cut out the middle man.

So back to the real question. If this is all about public health, why didn't FSIS get all fish and seafood? I have said before that it just makes sense to give FSIS all animals and animal products and eliminate a lot of confusion and duplication.


Does something about this issue smell fishy to anyone but me?

7/7/2009 12:05 PM 


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