Is your catfish really catfish? - - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

Is your catfish really catfish?

U.S. farm-raised catfish box (Source: KLTV Staff) U.S. farm-raised catfish box (Source: KLTV Staff)
TYLER, TX (KLTV) - A recent study says about one third of the seafood we eat is mislabeled. In other words, what you think is one fish, may be some other fish entirely. It's the same for fresh water fish, including catfish.

Sarah Willis of Bud Jones Bayou Cafe says she knows good catfish.

“When [customers] come in and then go eat somewhere else, they come back and they're like, we love your catfish,” she said.

Willis said when she started her restaurant, she had to choose the best fish to serve.

“The fake catfish is so much cheaper. You can make a lot more money off of it, but we go for what tastes better,” said Willis.

As fish imports have grown, mislabeling of catfish on restaurant menus is becoming more common.

“A lot of food establishments will say ‘fried fish basket,’ so you don't even know what kind of fish you're getting and that's usually where the basa and swai are used,” said Brenda Elrod, Environmental Health Director at Northeast Texas Public Health District.

Elrod said basa and swai are a different species of fish from Asia. She said they're not unsafe to eat, but they’re not catfish.

“If they label it as catfish, the consumer is being deceived in the fact that they're not getting real catfish,” she said.

That's why Willis says she only buys U.S. farm-raised catfish.

“If people come in and they ask for catfish, we want it to be catfish,” said Willis.

Elrod said you should look at your menu, and if it gives a generic name like baked fish, white fish, or fish filet, then it’s probably a different fish.

“If it says catfish and you want catfish, then you can ask the vendor ‘is this catfish?’ and they're supposed to tell you the truth,” she said.

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