Mississippi's Commissioner of Agriculture and Commerce Lester Spell has put a “stop-sale order” on some imported Chinese catfish in Mississippi grocery stores. The action was taken May 1 in accordance with the Retail Food Sanitation Law due to adulteration from banned antibiotics.

Laboratory tests, Spell said, have confirmed the presence of ciprofloxacin and enrofloxacin, drugs in the fluoroquinolones family.

The catfish were being sold in the following grocery stores: Save-A-Lot in Pontotoc and Houston, Sunflower Food Store in Quitman, and Aultman's Super Value in Forest.

“Consumers have the right to know if the food they are eating contains illegal drugs. The Mississippi Department of Agriculture and Commerce has a no-tolerance policy on banned antibiotics in food items,” Spell said.

“Currently, all samples of the foreign catfish tested by the Department of Agriculture and Commerce have shown the presence of a banned substance, and similar laboratory findings have recently been reported in Alabama.

“Our authority is limited to retail grocery stores,” Spell said. “We will continue testing for illegal substances and initiate fines for violations that are found. There is the possibility that these same adulterated fish are being offered to customers at hospitals, public schools, nursing homes, and public restaurants.”

Penalties under the Retail Food Sanitation Law include placing the adulterated products off sale and the possible imposition of an administrative fine of up to $500 for the first violation and up to $1,000 for each subsequent violation.