Feds Powerless To Keep Illegal Asian Catfish Out Of U.S.

This marks the fourth time in nine months that Headline Health has reported on catfish raised in Vietnam being smuggled into the U.S.

It’s clear that the penalties imposed on U.S. importers, retailers, and restaurants for peddling the illegal product are inadequate; repeatedly advising consumers to “check the labels” on food they purchased from trusted sources just doesn’t cut it.

An unlawful import of 77 tons of catfish that cannot be lawfully sold in the U.S. is not an accident, especially after three prior incidents in less than a year.

We found out the likely reason this keeps happening … you just have to follow the money trail. See below.– Editor

Lack of inspection prompts recall of 154,500 pounds of imported catfish

By Kelsey M. Mackin on May 29, 2019

Food Safety News – California firm Richwell Group Inc., doing business as Maxfield Seafood and importer of record, is recalling more than 154,500 pounds of Siluriformes, also known as catfish, that was not presented for import re-inspection into the United States, according to the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS).

According to the recall notice, the fish was produced at a Vietnamese establishment that was not eligible to export Siluriformes to the United States.

The frozen Siluriformes products, specifically yellow walking fish, were distributed to retail locations nationwide. The recall notice says the fish products were imported from Vietnam to the United States on various dates from March 2018 through January 2019.

The recalled frozen fish has a shelf life of two years. The problem was discovered on May 22 during routine FSIS surveillance activities of imported products.

“FSIS is concerned that some product may be in consumers’ freezers or refrigerators or both,” according to the recall notice. “Consumers who have purchased these products are urged not to consume them. These products should be thrown away or returned to the place of purchase.”

As of the posting of the recall, the FSIS reported there had been no confirmed adverse reactions in relation to eating the affected fish. The recall notice recommends that anyone who has eaten any of the fish contact a medical professional.

Consumers and retailers should be on the lookout for varying weights of packages containing 2-3 pieces of “FARM RAISED INDIVIDUALLY QUICK FROZEN”, either:

  • “FROZEN HEADLESS YELLOW WALKING FISH Clarias macrocephalics”, OR
  • “FROZEN YELLOW WALKING FISH Clarias macrocephalics”

The FSIS routinely conducts recall effectiveness checks to verify recalling firms notify their customers of the recall and that steps are taken to make certain that the product is no longer available to consumers.

When available, the retail distribution list(s) will be posted on the FSIS website at www.fsis.usda.gov/recalls.

Consumers with questions about the recall can contact Jae Hwang, Operations Manager of Maxfield Seafood, at: [email protected], according to the recall notice. Source. 

(To sign up for a free subscription to Food Safety News, click here.)

Why do U.S. importers keep buying illegal Vietnamese catfish? Because it’s dirt cheap …

Vietnam could face catfish oversupply

Jan 8, 2019

Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality, The Hague – The catfish export sector was probably the most improved industry this year, but rampant production could lead to excess supplies and price drops, according to Viet Dragon Securities Company (VDSC).

Many farmers have rushed to breed catfish after prices increased steadily from the beginning of 2017 due to fingerling and raw materials shortages.

The situation may lead to oversupply of raw materials when farms step into the harvest season. The selling price of raw fish for factories could be reduced, the company said.

Farms could suffer great losses and stop breeding for the next season, meaning they would lack raw materials for the next crop, VDSC warned.

However, according to the firm, if the US-China trade war continues, Vietnam could increase its market share in the US, replacing Chinese tilapia that currently accounts for 40 percent of all fish imports to the US.

Barriers to Vietnamese catfish in the US market are likely to decrease.

Vietnam has passed the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) field tests – the most important step in the assessment process established by the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) … Read more. 


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