Friday, July 6, 2007

Catfish Blunter

Posted By on Fri, Jul 6, 2007 at 9:19 AM


A catfish farm in Georgia
  • A catfish farm in Georgia

A catfish farm in Georgia

Today's Washington Post has a detailed look at the catfish-farming industry in China, both its contamination and farmers' use of hard-to-trace traditional medicine to combat that contamination. (Registration required.)

A couple of key grafs. First, the extent of the problem:

[Some fish farmers] spike the water with banned substances to keep their farmed fish alive. Batches of seafood traded at the Shanghai fish market this week, for example, carried the tell-tale greenish tinge of malachite green, a disinfectant powder that has been banned in China for five years because it is a suspected carcinogen but is still commonly used.

The "traditional" solution?

Instead of using antibiotics, Zhu regularly gives his fish Gandankang, a Tibetan blend that people take for liver and gall bladder problems. He also sometimes uses a "magic grass pill" made from a root used to treat diarrhea or dysentery and help stop miscarriages in humans.

A side note: On an earlier post about this topic, a commenter named Ben Lee raised an issue which I have yet to see addressed elsewhere:

Do not think this protest is one way. We are a company to help US export to China. We are in the process of exporting Maine lobster to China. Guess what? Because of the recent US-China food safety dispute, it makes [it] much harder to export Maine lobster to China.

No doubt there's more to come on this issue.

-Ian Froeb

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