Meat&Poultry - March 2011 - 20

Washington
BY BERNARD SHIRE
meatpoultry@sosland.com

Catfish inspection gets political
When Congress passed the 2008 Farm Bill, one of the provisions in the mammoth legislation required the US Dept. of Agriculture to take over inspection of catfi sh from the Food and Drug Administration. While there’s been plenty of criticism of food inspection in the United States for many years, one of the biggest sticking points has been how inspection of various food products has been divvied up among various government inspection age on agencies. gencies. begin. But in the eyes of foreign catfish producers, USDA inspection will protect American catfish from an invasion of catfish from overseas. In fact, the USDA regulations for inspection of both American and non-American catfish were supposed to be released back in March, 2010. So what Obama Administration officials are saying behind Washington’s closed doors is that the long delay in rulemaking took place because of concern about American trade with Vietnam. That country’s exports of seafood should total about $5 billion this year. Even though USDA rulemaking is under way, don’t expect final regulations anytime soon. USDA will be accepting comments through the end of June about the proposed rules for an inspection program to be implemented in the future – who knows when? The proposed rules allow a “delay” or “transition” period for American and foreign catfish producers. But the overseas producers believe inspection overseas for export to the United States will take a very long time to set up and get underway. would increase regulation and on-site inspection in Vietnam and force overseas producers to carry out the same standards of safety that American producers do. The battle over catfish safety actually dates back to 2002, when the previous Farm Bill was passed containing a stipulation preventing Vietnamese fish producers from labeling their catfish as “catfish.” Vietnamese and American catfish come from two different catfish “families,” although the former president of the Catfi sh Institute representing American producers made a comment the two types of fish are as close to each other as a house cat and a cow. Something that didn’t help American producers was that sales of catfish from the domestic family were down, while Vietnamese catfish sales in the US had risen. That’s when American producers decided better inspection was needed, including that of the Vietnamese fish. So Senator Thad Cochran (RMiss.), whose state is the center of the American catfish industry, and who serves on the Senate Agriculture Committee, inserted language in the 2008 Farm Bill to establish an inspection program, and included a $16 million earmark. The proposed rules even offer two definitions of catfish – one which includes only the domestic variety, and a second, which would include catfish families raised in Southeast Asia. Public meetings are expected to be held during the public comment period. No matter what regulation is adopted, another factor stands out: The Obama Administration’s proposed budget for 2011-2012 requested no money to fund catfish inspection. ■
Bernard Shire is M&P’s Washington correspondent, a contributing editor and a feature writer based in Lancaster, Pa. Shire also works as a food safety consultant and writer for Shire & Associates LLC. We would like to hear from you – to comment on this story or to request reprints, contact us by e-mail at meatpoultry@sosland.com.

And while there’s been support for rt for ending this inspection confusion by creating one super-size food inspection agency to make sure all products are safe to eat, inspection for the most part has been divided between USDA, FDA and state inspection agencies. USDA inspects meat, poultry and some egg products; states conduct state meat and poultry inspection programs; and FDA inspects seafood and most remaining food products. So why did Congress decide to take one species of seafood – catfish – and transfer it from infrequent inspection by FDA, to continuous inspection by USDA? Why is only one species of fish going to be looked at by the federal government’s meat inspection agency? The answer to this question is: Washington politics. And the proposed USDA rulemaking last month for FSIS catfish inspection will actually delay this inspection. The American catfi sh industry has actually been trying for quite a while to get its product declared as an amenable species by USDA, so such inspection could

Import war
Back in 2009, there was an intense lobbying campaign between American catfish producers and catfish importers, especially those bringing in catfish from Vietnam. This fight centered on whether Vietnamese catfish poses a health risk to Americans. And that’s why the American producers spent millions convincing Congress, as part of its 2008 Farm Bill, to tighten regulation of this single type fish, moving from the light seafood regulation of FDA, to the heavy-handed regulation of FSIS. All other fish remain under the lighter-weight FDA inspection. The battle has resulted in threats of a trade war from Vietnam, which wants its catfish excluded from the regulations. Domestic producers countercharge tougher regulation,

20 • Meat&Poultry • March 2011 • www.MeatPoultry.com



Meat&Poultry - March 2011

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Meat&Poultry - March 2011

Meat&Poultry - March 2011
Commentary - Defense mechanisms
Hormel earnings up 34 percent in first quarter
Cargill introduces Fressure patties
Maple Leaf earnings hit by input costs
Sanderson Farms touts record FY2010
Grant allows XL Foods to double capacity
Townsends poultry ops sold after bankruptcy
JBS reports positive results of food-safety technology
Taco Bell launches new beef image TV ads
Catfish inspection gets political
Sustainability strides
E xperience counts
THE TOP 125 PROCESSORS - Winner’s circle
THE TOP 125 PROCESSORS - Alphabetical listing by company name
THE TOP 125 PROCESSORS - by rank
Small Business Matters - Duty calls
Food Ingredient Solutions - Delectable pairings
Processing Innovations - Everything but the squeal
Sanitation - Cleaning passion
Food Safety - Reassigning resources
Food Safety - Food-safety fortress
Packaging Solutions - Packaging under pressure
New Product Rollouts - Unveiling ideas
New Products
Labor - Questioning benefi ts
Names in the News
New Product Showcase
Classified Advertising
Meat&Poultry - March 2011 - Meat&Poultry - March 2011
Meat&Poultry - March 2011 - 2
Meat&Poultry - March 2011 - 3
Meat&Poultry - March 2011 - 4
Meat&Poultry - March 2011 - 5
Meat&Poultry - March 2011 - 6
Meat&Poultry - March 2011 - 7
Meat&Poultry - March 2011 - Commentary - Defense mechanisms
Meat&Poultry - March 2011 - 9
Meat&Poultry - March 2011 - Hormel earnings up 34 percent in first quarter
Meat&Poultry - March 2011 - 11
Meat&Poultry - March 2011 - Maple Leaf earnings hit by input costs
Meat&Poultry - March 2011 - 13
Meat&Poultry - March 2011 - Sanderson Farms touts record FY2010
Meat&Poultry - March 2011 - 15
Meat&Poultry - March 2011 - Townsends poultry ops sold after bankruptcy
Meat&Poultry - March 2011 - 17
Meat&Poultry - March 2011 - Taco Bell launches new beef image TV ads
Meat&Poultry - March 2011 - 19
Meat&Poultry - March 2011 - Catfish inspection gets political
Meat&Poultry - March 2011 - 21
Meat&Poultry - March 2011 - Sustainability strides
Meat&Poultry - March 2011 - 23
Meat&Poultry - March 2011 - 24
Meat&Poultry - March 2011 - 25
Meat&Poultry - March 2011 - 26
Meat&Poultry - March 2011 - 27
Meat&Poultry - March 2011 - 28
Meat&Poultry - March 2011 - 29
Meat&Poultry - March 2011 - E xperience counts
Meat&Poultry - March 2011 - 31
Meat&Poultry - March 2011 - 32
Meat&Poultry - March 2011 - 33
Meat&Poultry - March 2011 - 34
Meat&Poultry - March 2011 - 35
Meat&Poultry - March 2011 - THE TOP 125 PROCESSORS - Winner’s circle
Meat&Poultry - March 2011 - 37
Meat&Poultry - March 2011 - THE TOP 125 PROCESSORS - Alphabetical listing by company name
Meat&Poultry - March 2011 - 39
Meat&Poultry - March 2011 - 40
Meat&Poultry - March 2011 - 41
Meat&Poultry - March 2011 - 42
Meat&Poultry - March 2011 - THE TOP 125 PROCESSORS - by rank
Meat&Poultry - March 2011 - 44
Meat&Poultry - March 2011 - 45
Meat&Poultry - March 2011 - 46
Meat&Poultry - March 2011 - 47
Meat&Poultry - March 2011 - 48
Meat&Poultry - March 2011 - 49
Meat&Poultry - March 2011 - 50
Meat&Poultry - March 2011 - 51
Meat&Poultry - March 2011 - 52
Meat&Poultry - March 2011 - 53
Meat&Poultry - March 2011 - 54
Meat&Poultry - March 2011 - 55
Meat&Poultry - March 2011 - 56
Meat&Poultry - March 2011 - 57
Meat&Poultry - March 2011 - 58
Meat&Poultry - March 2011 - 59
Meat&Poultry - March 2011 - 60
Meat&Poultry - March 2011 - 61
Meat&Poultry - March 2011 - Small Business Matters - Duty calls
Meat&Poultry - March 2011 - 63
Meat&Poultry - March 2011 - 64
Meat&Poultry - March 2011 - 65
Meat&Poultry - March 2011 - 66
Meat&Poultry - March 2011 - 67
Meat&Poultry - March 2011 - Food Ingredient Solutions - Delectable pairings
Meat&Poultry - March 2011 - 69
Meat&Poultry - March 2011 - 70
Meat&Poultry - March 2011 - 71
Meat&Poultry - March 2011 - 72
Meat&Poultry - March 2011 - 73
Meat&Poultry - March 2011 - 74
Meat&Poultry - March 2011 - 75
Meat&Poultry - March 2011 - Processing Innovations - Everything but the squeal
Meat&Poultry - March 2011 - 77
Meat&Poultry - March 2011 - 78
Meat&Poultry - March 2011 - 79
Meat&Poultry - March 2011 - 80
Meat&Poultry - March 2011 - 81
Meat&Poultry - March 2011 - 82
Meat&Poultry - March 2011 - Sanitation - Cleaning passion
Meat&Poultry - March 2011 - Food Safety - Reassigning resources
Meat&Poultry - March 2011 - 85
Meat&Poultry - March 2011 - 86
Meat&Poultry - March 2011 - 87
Meat&Poultry - March 2011 - Food Safety - Food-safety fortress
Meat&Poultry - March 2011 - 89
Meat&Poultry - March 2011 - 90
Meat&Poultry - March 2011 - 91
Meat&Poultry - March 2011 - 92
Meat&Poultry - March 2011 - 93
Meat&Poultry - March 2011 - 94
Meat&Poultry - March 2011 - 95
Meat&Poultry - March 2011 - 96
Meat&Poultry - March 2011 - 97
Meat&Poultry - March 2011 - Packaging Solutions - Packaging under pressure
Meat&Poultry - March 2011 - 99
Meat&Poultry - March 2011 - 100
Meat&Poultry - March 2011 - 101
Meat&Poultry - March 2011 - 102
Meat&Poultry - March 2011 - 103
Meat&Poultry - March 2011 - 104
Meat&Poultry - March 2011 - New Product Rollouts - Unveiling ideas
Meat&Poultry - March 2011 - New Products
Meat&Poultry - March 2011 - 107
Meat&Poultry - March 2011 - Labor - Questioning benefi ts
Meat&Poultry - March 2011 - Names in the News
Meat&Poultry - March 2011 - New Product Showcase
Meat&Poultry - March 2011 - 111
Meat&Poultry - March 2011 - 112
Meat&Poultry - March 2011 - 113
Meat&Poultry - March 2011 - 114
Meat&Poultry - March 2011 - 115
Meat&Poultry - March 2011 - 116
Meat&Poultry - March 2011 - Classified Advertising
Meat&Poultry - March 2011 - 118
Meat&Poultry - March 2011 - 119
Meat&Poultry - March 2011 - 120
Meat&Poultry - March 2011 - 121
Meat&Poultry - March 2011 - 122
Meat&Poultry - March 2011 - 123
Meat&Poultry - March 2011 - 124
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