Southern States Ban Chinese Catfish

Alabama and Mississippi have banned Chinese catfish after finding them pumped full of fluoroquinolones, an antibiotic banned by the FDA for use in animals that people eat.

Cheap imported Asian catfish have been undercutting American catfish farmers for years, driving some out of business even as they complained about the foreign fish illegally containing antibodies. It wasn’t until the melamine scare, though, that they could get the bandwagon started.

“Well, we know the FDA only checks a little over 1 percent of the food,” said Mississippi Department of Agriculture Commissioner Lester Spell. “So if you’re finding that type of volume, there’s a tremendous problem out there. That’s just the tip of the iceberg.”

The director of the Mississippi Poison Control Center said that eating the tainted catfish poses no risk to anyone eating them.

However, not courting Delta catfish farmer could prove toxic to Spell’s re-election bid. — BEN POPKEN

States Ban Catfish Imports From China Over Tests [NPR] (Thanks to Frank Grimes!)
Photo: Miss Catfish 2007
PREVIOUSLY: Walmart Pulls Contaminated Frozen Catfish From China


Edit Your Comment

  1. superlayne says:


    How could there not be some risk?

  2. Jason.Falkner says:

    Both the Times Daily and the NPR articles linked above incorrectly refer to the contaminating drugs as “banned”. While nobody should have to eat food contaminated with these substances, they are useful antibiotics to fight bacterial infections.

    enrofloxacin: not banned, it is a fluoroquinolone for use in animals only in the US. Its brand name is Baytril.

    ciprofloxacin: not banned, a commonly used fluoroquinolone in humans in the US (Cipro is the brand name).

  3. quantum-shaman says:

    Holy shit, why are these Asian devils putting broad-spectrum antibiotics into their catfish? Do they raise them in e-coli infested water? Yeah, that would be just like the Chinese.

  4. MaliBoo Radley says:


    It is likely that the water is poison. I know that you cannot eat a fresh salad in China, every vegetable has to be cooked. The veggies are not safe if eaten raw. The pollution problems they have over there boggle the mind.

  5. MaliBoo Radley says:

    The antibiotics aren’t banned, but they are banned from food use.

    “The FDA banned use of the antibiotics in food-producing animals in 1997.”

  6. nuton2wheels says:

    It’s about time. I look forward to the day when all inferior food products from china that don’t meet our domestic health standards are banned.

  7. kara70 says:

    Might want to change the headline to “States With Large Catfish Farms Ban Imports”. They’re using public health as a political cover to favor their own domestically grown catfish.

    Just sayin’.

  8. Jason.Falkner says:

    They’re not banned from use *period*. No duh that they’re banned in food-producing animals. But saying that the antibiotics *themselves* are banned (the articles make no distinction) simply feeds into the hysteria surrounding antibiotic use.

    I know some idiots who haven’t used the oral antibiotics prescribed by their doctors (because they’re “not natural”) when they come in with UTIs…they ended up in the hospital on IV antibiotics.

  9. PatrickIs2Smart says:

    …antibiotic banned by the FDA for use in animals that people it.

    That people it? Is that anything like eat?

  10. sled_dog says:

    Isn’t Mississsippi improting catfish kinda like Eskimos improting snow?

  11. Sudonum says:

    And kinda like Louisiana importing crawfish. Yet it’s been done.

  12. asherchang says:

    Do I smell cynicism?

    Of course, it was terrible of them to take no action until the pet food poisoning disaster, butdo you think anyone would appreciate having FDA-non-approved antibiotics in their catfish?

    Anyways, this is just further proof that China needs to stop worrying about Wikipedia, newsblogs and Death Note, and start actually regulating its own economy so that consumers aren’t left to the mercy of unethical manufacturers. Shite, you’d at think that a communist government would at least do that.

  13. timmus says:

    @Sudonum: And like Nebraska importing grain from China?


  14. quantum-shaman says:

    @asherchang: ….you’d at think that a communist government would at least do that.

    It’s the new and improved capitalist communism.

  15. capturedshadow says:

    “illegally containing antibodies”
    You mean antibiotics, not antibodies, don’t you Ben?


    It’s nice to see someone outright banning food containing unapproved substances instead of just putting out an alert about it *cough*FDA*cough*.

  17. SadSam says:

    Yuck! There is a real problem with our food supply and its almost impossible to figure out where food comes from these days (if you want to avoid antibiotic filled catfish or you want your puppy dog to avoid malamine filled puppy food). The first step to solving this problem is that food that is imported and food that is produced domestically must be tested by FDA/USDA/EPA for safety. Additionally, food should be labeled with where it comes from so that people who want to avoid catfish raised in China can avoid it. If other people don’t care then they can eat it. Additionally, terms like “local” “Louisiana” “Grouper” “Red Snapper” should mean what they say or food producers should be charged with fraud.

  18. Nytmare says:

    Leading commercial catfish producing states are Alabama, Mississippi, Arkansas, and Louisiana.

    To heck with them, I’ll start my own catfish farm. With hookers! And blackjack! In fact, forget the catfish.

  19. mopar_man says:


    So you would prefer that they keep importing catfish from China if they stopped using the antibiotics instead of supporting the local economy? Absolutely brilliant. You probably shop at Wal-Mart and think that’s good for the US economy too.

  20. Skiffer says:

    From NPR: “which the FDA has banned for use, saying they lead to the emergence of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.”

    Great, so when’s the outbreak of Asian catfish flu gonna happen?

  21. etinterrapax says:

    I can’t feel all that sorry even if this really is only an attempt to promote domestic ag. It won’t be all that long before we talk about reducing our dependency on foreign agriculture the way we talk about reducing our dependency on foreign oil.

    And I disagree that declining to take antibiotics for every UTI leads incontrovertibly to a hospital stay and IV administration. Each person is different, and each infection is different. Some populations, like children and the elderly, are more at risk if bacterial infections are left to resolve on their own, but a healthy adult can often weather a mild infection without antibiotics. Calling all who do so idiotic hippies is uneducated, at best. Putting broad-spectrum antibiotics in the food chain is demonstrably unhealthy, and if our food is coming from an environment that demands that kind of treatment, we need not to be buying, selling, or eating it. Period.

  22. quantum-shaman says:….

    …And that’s just the top three Google hits, a small hint at what these disgusting Commie effers will even admit to in the first place. And you know how they LIE about EVERYTHING, like their Fearless Leader could be rotting away from brown fish ebola, but oh, he just has a touch of the flu this week. Rat bastards. FU China.

  23. Frank Grimes says:

    I sent the initial article to Ben because I read about the ban and how it’s affecting my business. I work for a very large steamship company (We move those 20′ and 40′ containers you see on the road). I think most of you would be amazed how our business has changed just in the past five years and how much food we are moving from mostly developing/third world countries to the US. We still export a great amount (grain, citrus, apples, onions, and beef are some top commodities) but the imports are skyrocketing. With advanced technology (reduced oxygen boxes’ or nitrogen filled containers that displace the O2) you can all but stop the ripening of most fruits and vegetables. There are also about 80 TOTAL FDA inspectors responsible for inspecting the import cargo. Most of it does come into just a few ports but that isn’t very many people. For every 100 containers that come in containing food for human consumption maybe 5 are held for FDA inspection. Most are simply reviewed based on the manifest. If the commodity, origin and weight looks OK it’s most likely given a pass.

    I also found this more than a little mind boggling. At any given point in time we have about 450 fully loaded containers of Red Bull (each containing 2600 cases) in various stages of transit from Germany and The Netherlands to the US and Canada.

  24. quantum-shaman says:

    @Frank Grimes: There are also about 80 TOTAL FDA inspectors responsible for inspecting the import cargo. Most of it does come into just a few ports but that isn’t very many people. For every 100 containers that come in containing food for human consumption maybe 5 are held for FDA inspection.

    I can see it coming. The Taliban will be surreptitiously importing suitcase nukes and anthrax in a shipment of mango chutney from Pakistan. Meanwhile, we’re holding up grandma for nail clippers and 6 ounces of Polygrip on a flight to Dubuque, and THREATENING TO THROW SOFTWARE PIRATES IN JAIL FOR LIFE!

    Your tax dollars at work, people.

  25. Trai_Dep says:

    We should have a One Strike law for imported food. Imports have toxins or illegal chemicals then that county’s imports are put on a list. Anyone on that list must prove their goods are okay. No more of this, “burden of proof is on us” stuff.

    They don’t like it, they don’t have to import to US. Or, you know, obey laws.

  26. pestie says:

    This is simply a case of the noodler lobby at work.

  27. Jerim says:

    Mississippi doesn’t import anything. The ruling affects companies that ship products into this state for sale. For instance, Wal-Mart can no longer ship goods to their stores in Mississippi that come from Chinese fish produces. In that sense, Wal-Mart, Kroger or any other business that sells groceries is “importing.” This effectively keeps Chinese fish off the shelves. I don’t see how this could be politically motivated as there are far bigger fish producing countries and Mississippi’s fish industry is relative new and small. I agree that whether the govt. tells me it is safe or not, I don’t want antibiotics in my food, period.

  28. tinychicken says:

    @nytmare: I’m coming over to your catfish farm!

  29. synergy says:

    @quantum-shaman: Remember the Dubai Ports World controversy where Bush was trying to bludgeon through the sale of ports management to the Saudis? Saudi Arabis, from which 15 of the 9/11 terrorists came from?

    The Ports have never been and will probably never be safe. But the average American does no business going through a port, so there has to be false sense of security given through the airports.

  30. synergy says:

    Ack, correction. It was the UAE who was trying to buy up the management. Two of the 9/11 terrorists were from the UAE.

  31. @tinychicken: You’re gonna buy catfish from a beer drinking robot?

    (Oh wait, there won’t be any catfish.)

  32. asherchang says:

    @quantum-shaman: Although China’s unregulated freemarket economy is cause for global safetey concerns, your comments are beyond lame. Fucking cunt.

  33. asherchang says:

    @quantum-shaman: well, what do you expect? Although airport security is a useless hassle that could easilly let another 9/11 happen any day, seeing all the intense crap that they make everyone go through makes us feel safe, even if it adds nothing to actual security. Imports, however, are hardly seen or even thought about by the public. No need for security theatre in inspecting mangoes.

  34. quantum-shaman says:

    @asherchang: you’ve got real problems. go take some prozac.

  35. Capespray says:

    In the article “southern States Ban Catfish” because they are pumped full of antibiotics is nonsense. The FDA limit for all but these two Alabama stated is under 5 part per billion (ppb). The two states in question have decided to set their own limit of undedr 1PPB. To put this in perspective, at the FDA limit of under 5 ppb the average consumer would have to eat 220,000 pounds of catfish to receive one dose of the deaded furoquinolone. Let’s see this action for what it is and that is protectionism as both states banning imported Catfish are the largest producers of domestic Catfish in the USA. Tilapia from China is grown by the same methods, same location, yet it is free from scrutiny. Strange also that there are almost no tilapia growers in the USA. “Pumped Full of Antibiotics”?