Lawmakers are seeking to upend the controversial USDA Catfish Program. (subscription to Food Chemical News required)

  • As previously covered on this blog, earlier this year, FDA transferred jurisdiction over catfish inspection to USDA.  By way of background, FDA regulates the majority of the U.S. food supply, while USDA exercises jurisdiction over meat, poultry, and egg products.  Although FDA historically has regulated fish and fishery products, the 2008 Farm Bill required FDA to divest its authority over the inspection of Siluriformes fish (including catfish) to USDA’s Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS).
  • On September 13, 2016, two hundred lawmakers sent a letter to House of Representative leaders calling for “immediate consideration” of a bipartisan resolution that would scrap USDA’s catfish program, arguing that the best use of taxpayer dollars is to have one regulator for seafood – FDA.
  • The catfish inspection program continues to prove controversial, with some industry stakeholders insisting that USDA jurisdiction over catfish provides a marketplace advantage, while many others contend that it is a waste of regulatory and taxpayer resources.  It remains to be seen how the House leadership will respond, but in the meantime, it remains clear that this inspection program will continue to generate controversy.