Wenonah Hauter, the Executive Director of Food & Water Watch. (Photo: YouTube, bahnuntermhammer/FIS)
Food & Water Watch outraged by delay over catfish safety regulations
Monday, November 22, 2010, 03:10 (GMT + 9)
Wenonah Hauter, the Executive Director of Food & Water Watch - a non-profit organization that advocates policies regarding access to healthy, safe food and water - has released a statement discussing regulations that are affecting catfish producers and consumers, which reads as follows:
“This past Saturday marked the one-year anniversary of the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) submission of a proposed rule to the Office of Management and Budget to establish a mandatory inspection program for domestic and imported catfish."
"The new inspection program - to be administered by the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) - was required by the 2008 Farm Bill and final regulations for the program were supposed to be in place by December 2009."
“But after a year spent with the proposal sitting at the OMB, the Obama administration has yet to release the proposed regulations for public comment."
“The Obama administration has stated that it is interested in enhancing food safety for American consumers. So we cannot understand why it has not taken action on a food safety program established by Congress."
“Currently, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates catfish. Domestic catfish processors receive FDA inspections once every 5 to 10 years and only 2 per cent of imported catfish gets inspected."
"The new inspection program would subject domestic catfish processors to daily USDA inspection and imported catfish - much of which is raised in insanitary conditions and is treated with antibiotics and other chemicals that have been deemed to be illegal in the U.S. - would receive more rigorous inspection by the USDA."
“It seems clear that the Obama Administration is being pressured by importers and countries that export catfish not to implement the new regulations because they would not be able to meet stronger USDA standards."
"The President should make up his mind. Is he more interested in protecting U.S. consumers or promoting trade? We believe that the choice is clear."
"The Obama Administration should stop dragging its feet and publish the proposed catfish inspection regulations immediately so that U.S. consumers are protected.”