Poplarville Sunflower in catfish recall

Published 5:17 pm Friday, May 11, 2007

The Sunflower food store in Poplarville last week joined the list of stores affected by a Stop-Sale Order for Chinese catfish.

The order was prompted when imported Chinese catfish samples tested positive for two illegal antibiotics — ciprofloxacin and enrofloxacin, according to a May 8 release from the Mississippi Department of Agriculture and Commerce (MDAC).

Calls to the FDA for further information on the two antibiotics in the affected catfish have not yet been returned.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

Kelly Jones, manager at the Poplarville Sunflower, said yesterday the Chinese catfish in that store were a frozen product under the brand name Arctic Shore, distributed from the SuperValue, Inc., warehouse.

Jones said there were 16 packages of the 12-ounce size and 11 packages in the four ounce size removed from the shelves last week when the state agriculture department inspectors came to the store. He said a package of the product was sent off for testing.

Rickey Gray, deputy commissioner with the Mississippi Department of Agriculture and Commerce, said Thursday the 11 stores mentioned in the release that were affected by the recall are scattered throughout the state. He said when the announcement concerning the catfish was made, its presence in the state appeared to be limited. Currently, only two stores in south Mississippi were listed as having affected catfish, according to the May 8 release. The other store was Sav-A-Lot in Gulfport.

In the case of the Chinese catfish and the Stop-Sale Order, all the product is removed from the shelf at that store and if a positive test result is returned, the store can either destroy the product or have the distributor pick it up, said Andy Prosser, marketing director with the MDAC. If the store’s product tests negative, they can continue to sell it, he said.

Gray said it was important for the consumer to understand that no American-raised catfish were affected in the Stop-Sale regarding the Chinese catfish.

“…American farm-raised catfish aren’t the problem here,” Gray said, indicating that the controversy with the Chinese product might affect the American-raised catfish, which is completely safe.

Prosser said they had no FDA information available regarding acceptable levels of the two antibiotics, or at what level they would be considered dangerous. If it is found to be at a detectable level they have to issue a Stop-Sale order in that grocery store, he said.

He said the department’s testing was expected to be completed yesterday, May 10, but that all the results would not be known for several days. The samples are sent to chemical laboratories at Mississippi State University for testing. Gray said the testing usually takes one to two days.

He said their department is responsible for only grocery stores and there are approximately 500 grocery stores under their testing jurisdiction in the state. The 12 inspectors normally available for the testing have been averaging eight stores a day, he said.

Gray said they enforce Food and Drug Administration at the grocery store level.

Prosser said when the product in question leaves China it primarily enters the United States on the West Coast where approximately one to two percent is actually tested at point of entry.