Is this a food safety issue?
Not unlike the Emperor’s new clothes, lobbyists who claim the USDA Catfish Inspection Program is based on a food safety issue are quietly laughed at in Washington. The country’s top food safety experts see this use of a fake food safety scare by a special interest group as an abomination.
USDA’s own Risk Assessors argue catfish are safe based on FDA regulations
- “The CDC consider commercially raised catfish to be a low risk-food.”
- “There is substantial uncertainty regarding the actual effectiveness of an FSIS catfish inspection program.”
- “This probability incorporates the prevalence of Salmonella-contaminated catfish servings and suggests salmonellosis from consuming a serving of catfish is an uncommon event.”
- “Sparse information limits [USDA’s] ability to make strong statements about the baseline risk.”
- “Also, the rate at which FSIS inspection will achieve its ultimate reductions is unknown.”
- “The true effectiveness of FSIS inspection for reducing catfish-associated human illnesses is unknown.”
–USDA Catfish Risk Assessment
Experts agree this is not a food safety issue.
- “Too bad so many dollars were wasted on this foolishness.”
–Dr. Richard Raymond, Former USDA Food Safety Czar
- “…it’s everything that’s wrong about the food-safety system. It’s food politics. It’s not public health.”
–Dr. David Acheson, Former FDA Food Safety Czar
- “[USDA] has not established a case for additional regulation. On the contrary, the risk assessment and benefit-cost analysis demonstrate that there is no need for additional regulation of catfish…”
–Richard Williams, Director of policy research at the Mercatus Center
- “The risk assessors had virtually no documented evidence of a pathogen-related problem associated with catfish on which to base their risk analysis.”
–Joint Submission to USDA
The Government Accountability Office reports the USDA Catfish Inspection Program will not make catfish or any other food safer.
- “Both FDA and [NOAA] officials stated that continuous inspection will not improve catfish safety.” (May 2012)
- “…the agency’s proposed catfish inspection program further fragments the federal oversight system for food safety without demonstrating that there is a problem with catfish or a need for a new federal program.” (May 2012)
- “The fragmented federal oversight of food safety has caused inconsistent oversight, ineffective coordination, and inefficient use of resources.” (March 2011)
- “According to FDA officials, based on the agency’s experience and information from its own testing programs, catfish is a low-risk product…” (May 2012)
- “FSIS’s proposed catfish inspection program would further divide responsibility for overseeing seafood safety and introduce overlap at considerable cost.” (May 2012)
- “The [catfish] risk assessment cited [USDA’s] knowledge and experience working with Salmonella detection and prevention, but that its knowledge and experience related to poultry, not seafood.” (May 2012)