The Catfish Institute (TCI), based in Jackson, Mississippi, is an association of catfish farmers, processors and feed manufactures founded in 1986 to raise consumer awareness of the positive qualities of U.S. Farm-Raised Catfish.
TCI was the first in the seafood industry to develop and implement a quality control program, monitored by the United States Department of Commerce (USDC), to ensure a consistently high-quality product.
At 550 million pounds of annual production, more U.S. Farm-Raised Catfish is produced in the U.S. each year than all other farmed fish combined.
The distance from the growing region to Toronto, ON is slightly shorter than that from the Atlantic Ocean and about 2.5 times shorter than from the Pacific Ocean to Toronto.
Q. How does this differ from wild catfish?
A. U.S. Farm-Raised Catfish is the opposite of wild catfish. This is farm-raised in clean, fresh water inland ponds in the southern U.S. and fed a floating puffed grain pellet. Because this fish eats and lives at the surface of the ponds, it shares none of the attributes of wild or Atlantic catfish.
A slice is nice
The fish is sold as boneless fillets, either plain or pre-marinated in Italian, Lemon Pepper, and Cajun flavours.
This little fishy went to market
U.S. Farm-Raised Catfish is generally available at the fresh fish counter of every major and mid-sized grocery chain in Ontario. It is also sold at seafood markets and is increasingly appearing on restaurant menus across Canada.
|1. U.S. Farm-Raised Catfish is known for its consistency. Achieving that consistency begins with the selection and mating of mature catfish. Mature catfish remain in production an average of 12 years and lay 3,000 to 4,000 eggs annually per pound of body weight. Once the eggs are laid and fertilized, they are collected and taken to special hatcheries designed to replicate the natural environment. The eggs hatch after seven days and move to the next level of maturation, called sac fry because of the attached yolk sacs that supply their food.|
In 1987, TCI contracted with the United States Department of Commerce (USDC) to conduct weekly inspections of farm-raised catfish processing plants. In 1994, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) mandated a Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points (HACCP) regulatory system for the seafood industry to prevent food safety problems before they occur. This system, which places responsibility for product safety on individual manufacturers and distributors, was nothing new to the farm-raised catfish industry– for over a decade, the industry has been independently executing its own quality control program.
One of the main differences between farm-raised and wild catfish is in their living conditions. U.S. Farm-Raised Catfish are grown in a quality-controlled environment of clay-based ponds filled with pure fresh water pumped from underground wells. The rectangular-shaped ponds, averaging 10 to 20 acres (four to eight hectares) each, are built above-ground from the rich southern soil by constructing embankments that are then filled with four to six feet (one to two metres) of water.