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Market-size USDA 103 catfish ready for harvest. (Photo Credit: Peggy Greb)

New catfish labelling rules in Mississippi

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Monday, July 08, 2013, 04:00 (GMT + 9)

The newly modified Mississippi Catfish Marketing Law that has gone into effect this week in this state will let consumers make better educated decisions when purchasing certain types of fish. The new law requires food service establishments to make consumers aware of the country of origin and the method of production of basa, swai tra and catfish.

Until now, the Mississippi Catfish Marketing Law only mandated that food service establishments -- including restaurants, cafeterias, lunch rooms, food stands, saloons, taverns, bars, lounges, snack bars, delis, or other similar facilities engaged in the business of selling food to the public -- offer consumers information on the country of origin and method of production of catfish.   

It was Commissioner of Agriculture Cindy Hyde-Smith who pushed vigorously to pass this law during the 2013 Legislative Session.  

“Consumers want to know where their food is coming from so they can make informed decisions when making food choices for them and their families. This law will allow them to do just that,” she stated. 

“Federal law mandates country of origin labelling for catfish, basa, swai, and tra, in grocery stores, and, now, consumers will also be able to know the source of their catfish, basa, swai or tra in Mississippi restaurants,”  Hyde-Smith added.

The new labelling requirements for catfish, basa, swai, and tra in food service establishments are as follows:   

  • The menu must cite the country of origin and the method of production next to the product listing on the menu. “Menu” includes any listing of food and beverage options for a diner or customer to select from regardless of its form. 
  • If the catfish, basa, swai or tra served by the food service establishment is produced in the US, then the country of origin and method of production information may be generally disclosed by the food service establishment in a prominent location, such as a wall sign or table tent.

If US consumers begin giving preference to US-raised fish, it could make a difference for catfish farmers, who have been struggling with low prices due to cheap imports from China and Southeast Asia which have flooded the market, NEMS Daily Journal reports.

Related articles:

- Senate repeals USDA Catfish Inspection Office 

- Catfish should not be regulated by USDA: report 

By Natalia Real


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