As Congress moves ahead with the farm bill — legislation that has historically been full of (figurative) pork — there’s one really obvious measure that needs to be eliminated. A new program that will require that catfish be monitored by the Department of Agriculture. Catfish, like all fish consumed by Americans, is already monitored by the Food and Drug Administration. Supposedly, this extra layer of regulation is a matter of food safety. But according to the Heritage Foundation, this doubling up on regulatory oversight is both expensive and unwarranted:
Facilities that process catfish and other seafood will have to comply with both FDA requirements for seafood (not including catfish) and USDA requirements for catfish. This USDA catfish program will cost taxpayers about $14 million annually.
Proponents of this new, burdensome program justify it based on safety reasons. However, both the FDA and Centers for Disease Control consider commercially raised catfish to be a low-risk food. The USDA has stated that salmonella is the primary food safety hazard with catfish. In its analysis, the USDA found only one possible salmonella outbreak connected to catfish, and that was more than 20 years ago in 1991.