First off, since mid-March, pet owners across the country have been consulting recall lists and visiting web sites trying to make sure the food they give their companion animals is safe. The US has seen a massive recall of pet food containing wheat gluten imported from China and contaminated with either melamine or rat poison or some of both. The problem wheat gluten was not tested for purity. It has become clear that only a tiny portion of imported food products are tested by the FDA, even if they are destined for human consumption.
Second, folks in the south like catfish. I can’t find statistics on the amount of catfish consumed, so I am reduced to anecdote. My brother-in-law and my cousin are more than happy to eat catfish three meals a day as long as they can get it. Alabama is the second largest catfish producer in the US, behind Mississippi and raising catfish is a multi-million dollar business here. Someone must like it.
Those two points came together on Wednesday, when I read that Alabama Agriculture & Industries Commissioner Ron Sparks had announced a ban on catfish imported from China. A banned antibiotic, fluoroquinolones, had turned up in several of the tested fish. You can click on this link to read the whole story, but the short version is that somebody in Alabama is testing imported catfish. And when they found something that shouldn’t be there, Sparks stopped the importation of fish from those sources.
In other words, Commissioner Sparks and the people who work for him appear to be taking their jobs seriously, making sure the food supply is safe, and if it isn’t, making sure it doesn’t get to the dinner table. Competent government action that not only protects Alabama catfish lovers, it safeguards an industry that generates jobs and income in the state. How refreshing!
Maybe we should start feeding Alabama catfish to our cats. At least catfish gets inspected.