Enforcement Activity by the USDA Food Safety Inspection Service Against Imported Siluriformes (Catfish) for “Failure to Present” Violations
As reported here, the domestic and import inspection program for Siluriformes fish and fish products (including catfish) was transferred from FDA to USDA in response to a congressional mandate. After September 1, 2017, only foreign countries that had submitted documentation showing the equivalence of their Siluriformes fish inspection system with that of the U.S. could continue exporting these products to the U.S. Additionally, as of August 2, 2017, all shipments of imported Siluriformes entering the U.S. must be presented at an Official Import Inspection Establishment for re-inspection by USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) personnel.
FSIS routinely monitors distributors and cold storage facilities for “failure to present violations.” Recent recalls suggest that enforcing the re-inspection requirement of the Siluriformes fish inspection system is an important priority for FSIS. See Fulton Seafood (February 22, 2019), TV Food (February 22, 2019), Richwell Group (February 5, 2019), American Best (February 4, 2019), H&T Seafood (January 18, 2019) and Mannarich Food (December 15, 2018).
The recall classification for products that are violative on account of not being presented for FSIS re-inspection as required is Class I ( i.e., “involves a health hazard situation in which there is a reasonable probability that eating the food will cause health problems or death”). Further, FSIS routinely issues health alerts for such products although they have not typically been associated with other actionable defects or reports of adverse reactions due to consumption.