Alabama Commissioner of Agriculture & Industries Ron Sparks has announced an amendment to the August 2005 stop-sale order of all Vietnamese farm-raised fish and seafood products in the state of Alabama to include grouper, sole, and flounder. The extension is a result of continued testing of Vietnamese brands of fish by the Department.

The original stop-sale order in August of 2005 was for more than 200,000 pounds of product, which included approximately 115,000 pounds that was mislabeled as Vietnam Wild Caught Sole. The product was actually pangasius hypothalamus (sutchi catfish). In April 2006, 44,000 pounds of product labeled Wild Caught Grouper were determined to be mislabeled pangasius hypothalamus.

“These companies have a history of mislabeling their fish and sending it to the United States,” said Sparks. “Mostly they label basa as grouper to avoid our tariffs, but they also try to disguise farm-raised fish as wild caught. The main reason this is important to consumers is that in Vietnam, the producers use FDA banned antibiotics in their farm-raised fish. It also means that consumers are paying a higher price for a fish they think is grouper that is actually basa, or another fish.

“The Department’s testing of these products is not a one time thing. We want the people of Alabama to know that we will continue to be vigilant about what we allow to enter our food supply.”