As a consumer, you’re looking at labels often – so what does U.S. Farm-Raised Catfish really mean when you see it on a menu or in the seafood department at the grocery store? Catfish is becoming more and more popular everywhere from high-end restaurants to local grocery stores, but not all catfish is created equally. Unfortunately, it’s not uncommon to see imported catfish masquerading as high-quality catfish.
What’s the difference? Imported catfish is raised without as many regulations, and it’s more likely to contain toxins and higher levels of heavy metal, such as mercury. U.S. farm-raised catfish production, however, is strictly regulated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture for safety and has low toxin levels. U.S. farm-raised catfish are also protected from groundwater pollution because they live in man-made agricultural catfish ponds, which ensures safety for the fish and ultimately the consumer.
From egg to harvest, U.S. farm-raised catfish are raised under controlled conditions in man-made ponds with minimal use of antibiotics and other chemicals to treat for disease. The catfish are fed floating food from the time they are sac fry, which is the life stage once they hatch, until they are harvested. This floating food teaches the fish to look for food at the top of the pond rather than the bottom, keeping them from looking for food sources elsewhere that could potentially alter the mild flavor of the catfish.
Heartland’s U.S. farm-raised catfish are fed a high-protein, grain-based floating feed that is made from crop-derived ingredients, and it contains no added hormones or antibiotics. This allows the catfish to consistently maintain a mellow and clean flavor palette. Before harvest, each pond must pass a stringent quality and flavor test. After the quality test is passed, the pond is ready for harvest.
Once at the harvesting facility, the fish are cleaned, filleted, trimmed and packed in a state-of-the-art facility. The packaged fish are then stored in coolers and freezers until they are loaded onto trucks for shipping, ensuring the freshness of the fish is maintained through delivery. This process is stringently regulated by the USDA and other agencies as well, making sure the consumer is protected throughout every stage of producing catfish.
U.S. farm-raised catfish is rated as a “Best Choice” by the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch. It’s sustainable, responsibly farmed and delicious, so make sure to look for catfish that you can trust when picking out the next meal for your family.