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Catfish belong to the order Siluriformes and include both the Ictaluridae and Pangasiidae families. However, U.S. labeling laws require only species of the family Ictaluridae to be marketed as catfish. The lower production price of Pangasiidae, combined with changes in regulations over time, have resulted in high potential for species substitution and country of origin mislabeling among catfish products. The objective of this study was to conduct a market survey of catfish products sold at the U.S. retail level to examine species mislabeling and compliance with Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) regulations. A total of 80 catfish samples were collected from restaurants, grocery stores and fish markets in Orange County, CA. DNA was extracted from each sample and tested with real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR) using the InstantID™ U.S. Catfish Assay Kit for Ictaluridae spp. (InstantLabs). Samples that tested negative for Ictaluridae were tested with real-time PCR using the InstantID Asian Catfish Assay Kit for Pangasiidae spp. DNA barcoding was used as a final test in cases where species could not be identified with either of the real-time PCR assays. Overall, 7 of the 80 catfish products were found to be substituted with Pangasiidae species for a mislabeling rate of 9%. This included 5 of the 40 restaurant samples and 2 of the 32 grocery store samples. Additionally, 59% of grocery store samples were not compliant with COOL regulations. The results of this study reveal the occurrence of catfish mislabeling on the U.S. commercial market and suggest the need for continuous monitoring of these products.


NOTICE: this is the author’s version of a work that was accepted for publication in Aquaculture. Changes resulting from the publishing process, such as peer review, editing, corrections, structural formatting, and other quality control mechanisms may not be reflected in this document. Changes may have been made to this work since it was submitted for publication. A definitive version was subsequently published in Aquaculture, volume 495, in 2018. DOI: 10.1016/j.aquaculture.2018.06.052

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