News from the Tennessee Valley Opinion
SUNDAY, JUNE 11, 2006


Er, about that fish you are getting ready to eat ...

Somebody joked recently that state Agriculture Commissioner Ron Sparks has a thing about Vietnamese catfish.

So do we.

He also has a thing about Vietnamese importers mislabeling fish, which makes us happy. Last week, Mr. Sparks stopped the sale of fish mislabeled as "Wild Caught Grouper" because, he said, it wasn't grouper and didn't come from the wild.

That was not the first time the commissioner has butted heads with stubborn shippers over farm-raised fish and seafood products coming from Vietnam.

One 44,000 pound shipment of fish labeled as wild caught grouper was nothing more than river catfish.

Here in Morgan County it is difficult to buy much more than pond-grown catfish if you prefer fish taken from U.S. waters. So Mr. Sparks is warning Alabama consumers that they can't be sure all of the time of fish they are eating, but if it's from Vietnam there's a good chance its some variety of catfish. It may contain antibiotics that the Food and Drug Administration banned in the U.S.

Imagine what we might get if his department wasn't monitoring imports daily.

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