Look at the lovely flowing waters of the Mekong River (below right) where Asian catfish are farm-raised in crowded conditions in cages under houseboats (Yuck!). These catfish are sold throughout the world, including the USA and have been marketed under 50+ different names from Basa to White Ruffy to even Grouper! When they were first introduced to the USA, they were deceptively marketed as if they were U.S. Farm-Raised Catfish!
Water quality is a HUGE CONCERN in Asia where catfish farming or any kind of fish farming occurs. We take our clean water for granted in the USA while clean water has become a scarcity in Asia. Granted, these Asian catfish may taste good, but would you really eat any kind of fish if you knew they came from highly polluted waters loaded with sewage, fertilizer, and pesticide runoffs? Also, you can't taste those dangerous banned antibiotics used in Asia to keep fish from dying in the highly polluted waters. These days when it comes to eating fish, the best practice is to ALWAYS ask about the Country-of-Origin if you don't know!
Did you know that there's over 4.5 million fish farmers in China alone!
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U.S. Farm-Raised Catfish
from Mekong River in Vietnam
I took this photo of a Catfish pond in Mississippi where the catfish are fed a grain diet and are unaffected by external environmental conditions. Fresh water is pumped from underground wells into the ponds.
Mekong river catfish farming where many Basa and Tra fish are raised in highly polluted water in cages under houseboats. The Mekong River has been labeled "The Toilet Bowl of Asia."
Fresh US Farm-Raised Catfish fillet purchased from a grocery store in Indianapolis, Indiana.
Basa fish fillet sold thawed (previously frozen) by a major grocery store chain in Indianapolis, Indiana (origin not indicated at time this was purchased). The Basa was about a dollar a pound cheaper than the U.S. Farm-Raised Catfish fillet.
Asian catfish fillet from a very popular cafeteria southwest of Indianapolis sold as "Catfish." This cafeteria used to have authentic U.S. Farm-Raised Catfish and then switched to the Asian catfish product and did not tell their customers. I used to frequent this establishment and quit going after they made the switch (it was easy to tell the difference). They continued to call it "catfish" despite my protests and their violation of federal law for calling it catfish..
Fresh U.S. Farm-Raised Catfish fillets coated with corn-meal & seasonings and deep-fried in peanut oil. You can't go wrong with U.S. Farm-Raised Catfish. Beware of the catfish that are raised in China and sold in the United States. China has taken our native channel catfish and raise them, process them, and ship them to the USA, undercutting the prices of our own U.S. Farm-Raised Catfish (due to their cheap labor and lack of quality control). Beware of the catfish from China because of the use of banned antibiotics and the very poor water quality in China!
This is Asian Basa fish (frozen product) sold as White Ruffy in a popular national specialty store in Indianapolis, Indiana. Basa fish has been know to be sold under more than 50 different names. There is no such fish as White Ruffy! Basa fish has even been illegally sold as Grouper in many restaurants in the USA!
Here is a box of U.S. Farm-Raised Catfish purchased at Walmart. As consumers, we need to be VERY CAREFUL and watch the labels on what you purchase. Ensure that the catfish you purchase in stores or restaurants are indeed raised in the USA!
Why take chances! There have been numerous recalls on products from China (hundreds of toys with lead paint). Even some catfish raised in China has been pulled from shelves and shipments were banned by some states due to the presence of antiobitics banned in the USA.
The choice is clear! Insist on a safe product raised in clean water!
Check out our favorite ways to prepare catfish at home!
Be sure to click on The Catfish Institute link below to get a huge variety of catfish recipes and to find out more information on U.S. Farm-Raised Catfish and the dangers of consuming the catfish raised in Asia.
Steve's Favorite - catfish pieces coated with cornmeal & seasonings (salt, garlic powder, cayene pepper) and deep-fried in peanut oil.
Becky's Favorite - catfish fillets skillet fried with Old Bay seasoning.