American Catfish Consumers Deserve Better

A resolution passed by the U.S. Senate would deny Americans protection from illegal carcinogens

May 26, 2016

Regarding your editorial “Ending the Catfish Fight” (May 25), American consumers deserve protection from catfish containing illegal carcinogens, but a resolution passed by the Senate would deny this protection.

Critics have targeted the new catfish inspection program by the U.S. Agriculture Department as duplicative and costly—claims that have no basis in fact.

Just this month, shipments of catfish from Vietnam were reported to be adulterated, containing harmful substances prohibited for consumption in the U.S. If not for Agriculture Department inspections, these products could have reached the dinner table.

Under the old system, the Food and Drug Administration inspected less than 2% of the catfish coming into the U.S., leaving more than 98% unchecked. The Senate resolution suggests that we return to this flawed system.

I believe American consumers should be able to buy and eat catfish knowing that it has met strict U.S. safety standards. Our domestic producers, who work hard to harvest wholesome, quality-controlled catfish, are subject to rigorous inspections. Why should the standards for foreign producers be any different?

The bottom line is consumer safety. The entire inspection program under the Agriculture Department would cost $1.1 million a year, hardly a hefty price to pay to keep Americans from being exposed to dangerous contaminants. These inspections have been estimated to reduce 175,000 cases of cancer in the U.S. Isn’t this enough of a reason to put the well-being of Americans first?

This letter to the editor appeared in the Wall Street Journal on May 26, 2016.