Press Release
From the Office of State Senator Glenn Hegar, District 18

For Immediate Release
February 17, 2011
Contact: Lisa Craven
(512) 463-0118

State Senator Glenn Hegar files Catfish Consumer Safety Legislation

AUSTIN — Senator Glenn Hegar filed Senate Bill 751 to protect Texas consumers from tainted catfish being imported from Asia and sold in Texas restaurants. The legislation will require Texas restaurants to inform their customers whether they are serving imported or domestic catfish.

"Repeated government testing has revealed that catfish imported from various parts of Asia pose a serious risk to consumer health," said Senator Hegar. "We want to make sure that Texans can make informed decisions about the food they eat."

Texans consume more catfish than all other states combined. More than 70% of this catfish is consumed in restaurants. Most (almost 80%) of the seafood consumed in the U.S. is imported. Unfortunately, less than 2% of imported seafood is inspected by the FDA upon arriving in the United States.

According to a recent Today Show investigative report, catfish in Vietnam are being raised in dirty sewage water and pumped full of antibiotics and banned drugs to keep them alive. Known carcinogens such as malachite green, crystal violet and melamine have been found in catfish imported from Asia.

The state of Alabama recently banned the importation of Asian seafood when almost half of the samples tested were contaminated with fluoroquinolones, an antibiotic that has been banned for use in food within the United States.

Currently, federal law requires grocery stores to inform customers where the seafood they are purchasing was produced or caught. This same law does not apply to restaurants. Five states have in recent years adopted such laws.

"Imported catfish is dangerous," said Ray Canfield, owner of Shoal Creek Saloon in Austin. "I am very supportive of legislation that will help consumers make healthy decisions for their families when eating in restaurants."

Senator Hegar served two terms in the Texas House of Representatives and now represents Senate District 18 in the Texas Senate. Senate District 18 contains over one-third of the Texas coastline. He is a sixth generation Texan, and earns a living farming on land that has been in his family since the mid 1800's. He currently resides in Katy, Texas with his wife Dara, and their three children, Claire, Julia, and Jonah.