BAIT-AND-SWITCH: CONSUMERS URGED TO CHECK FISH ORIGIN
China's fish farms, which produce 70 percent of the world's aquaculture, are having more problems with tilapia production due to disease, poor water quality and overuse of antibiotics. Since the United States is the largest single market for Chinese tilapia, consumers should look at the country of origin of fish sold in supermarkets and ask restaurants where their tilapia comes from.
|Look for this label when purchasing catfish.|
According to USDA analysis reported on The Fish Site, experts believe [China's] deteriorating water environments and high-density farming have led to high bacteria counts. Inadequate quality inputs, including feed and fingerling stocks, and overuse of antibiotics have also contributed to disease conditions, which will continue to impact tilapia production and quality in the near future.
Alabama Farmers Federation Governmental and Agricultural Programs Director Jimmy Carlisle said consumers should be cautious when buying food imported from other countries.
"Purchasing products grown or produced domestically is the only way you can be assured products are safe for your family," Carlisle said, adding U.S. farm-raised catfish is a great white fish alternative to tilapia. "American farmers have always competed with other countries whose regulations regarding production practices and food safety weren't anywhere near the requirements and standards of U.S. farm-raised products. This study emphasizes the point we've been making — buy U.S. farm-raised fish."
American farmers continue to provide consumers with the safest food and food products, Carlisle said. In Alabama, the 2003 development of "Alabama Aquaculture Best Management Practices" emphasizes state fish farmers' commitment to be the most efficient and environmentally friendly industry to ensure quality products are available for domestic consumers.
For more information on Alabama's catfish industry, visit http://www.alfafarmers.org/commodities/catfish.phtml.