Chinese catfish banned as tests prove positive for outlawed drugs

The Fish Site
by The Fish Site
4 May 2007, at 1:00am

US - As the federal government's investigation into melamine-laced pet food continue, Mississippi and Alabama officials added to the wave of consternation over tainted food imports by banning sales in their states of catfish from China.

Samples of imported Chinese catfish have found a proportion to be contaminated with fluoroquinolone antibiotics.

These drugs were banned for use in food animals by the FDA in 1997. Tests showed that they were responsible for the emergence of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. The drugs are still used in some countries to prevent infections and promote growth in farm-raised fish.

Although some scientists have suggested that fluoroquinolone at up to 5 parts per billion may be harmless in food animals, Alabama and other states have a "zero tolerance" standard. Catfish that tested positive in Alabama had levels that ranged from less than one part per billion to more than 10 parts per billion.

That discovery prompted the state's agriculture commissioner, Ron Sparks, to issue a statewide "stop sale" order. That in turn prompted officials in Mississippi to conduct similar tests on four store-bought Chinese catfish.

"All four were positive," said Lester Spell, commissioner of that state's Department of Agriculture and Commerce. "The Chinese are using these chemicals and antibiotics that are strictly banned in the United States."