Catfish war moves to TV screens –

Catfish war moves to TV screens Published:  26 October, 2010

THE growing trade war between United States catfish farmers and rival Asian importers has moved to the TV screens as well as taken on a new intensity.

Two groups, Catfish Farmers of America and the US Catfish Institute, have claimed  that Chinese and Vietnamese catfish fillets are polluted and contain  antibiotics. The institute is calling for country of origin labels on catfish, and the farmers’ body wants the Obama administration to inspect all imports.

They have now taken out television commercial on two news channels, CNN and Fox, saying: “Did you know that only  two per cent of imported seafood is inspected?” and concludes: “Make your family’s health and safety your number-one concern.” Another advertisement shows a man dressed  as a Chinese catfish making kung-fu moves on unsuspecting housewives and knocking over a dinner table.

As a result catfish farmers in Vietnam have become increasingly worried. Around half of Vietnam’s catfish exports are shipped to the United States and it provides useful income for the impoverished farmers. But the cheap prices are hitting the home grown US farmers – and they are fighting back. Production costs are far less in South east Asia.” Joe Lowery, head of Catfish Farmers of America said: “The White House has had more than two years to enforce a law that could provide important food safety protections for American consumers.”

The American catfish industry, which is concentrated in the southern states,  employs almost 15,000 people and has an annual turnover of some $4-billion. Earlier this year similar there were similar protests in the US about Indian shellfish imports, suggesting the quality and hygiene was not as good as in the United States and that some of the shrimp contained chemicals.