Don't Eat Tilapia Because it Comes From China-Disputed!

Don’t Eat Tilapia Because it Comes From China-Disputed!

Summary of eRumor:
This is a forwarded email that warns not to eat tilapia because it comes from China.

The Truth:
This eRumor has more to do with the controversy of consuming wild caught fish over fish that is farm raised.  China is a major producer of farm raised tilapia but sanitation conditions of ponds may not be as big of a concern when compared to dumping of  chemicals and drugs into the water where these tasty fish are raised.

According to the seafood watch fact sheet by the Monterey Bay Aquarium in California, tilapia is a fresh water snapper that is farmed in ponds, closed re-circulating systems or tank systems.  About 40% of the world’s tilapia comes from China.  Other countries that farm tilapia in mass production are the U.S., Canada, Ecuador, and Taiwan.  The fish is a native to Africa and is considered a “fast-growing tropical species.”  The fact sheet also said that it “is the fourth most-consumed seafood in the United States after shrimp, tuna and salmon.”

Consuming fish has health benefits but experts say that wild caught fish is preferable to those raised on a farm.  This according to a November 19, 2012 article by the Washington Post that warned of “heavy use of chemicals — including pesticides and antibiotic and antifungal drugs — in many aquaculture operations,” a process to help maintain the health of fish in overcrowded habitats.  The article also said that the experts suggested that it was healthier to eat farmed fish than no fish at all.  Moderation was the key to a healthier life by including half a pound of fish in the weekly diet.
The allegation that farm raised tilapia in China were being fed chicken and pig feces also remains unproven. “In many cases, fish farmed in Asia and imported to the US have been raised on diets of chicken and pig feces.” This according to a July 15, 2013 article by MSNBC but in an update at the bottom of this same article cites a denial by a member of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.  “FDA spokesperson Theresa Eisenman flatly denied that the widespread practice of feeding feces to farmed fish occurs.” Eisenman said, “We are not aware of evidence to support the claim that this practice is occurring in China, Both domestic and imported seafood products are required to meet the same food safety standards. If FDA had information that an aquaculture product was raised in a manner that would violate FDA’s food safety requirements, that product would not be allowed entry into the United States.”

Posted 01/19/14