Bud Jones served his first plate of fish at his south San Antonio restaurant in October 1958. His daughter Kathy has taken over much of the business now, but Jones occasionally pops in to “keep things in order.”
With all the concerns about seafood safety due to the Gulf oil spill and unease about Asian imported fish, I recognized Jones knew more about the seafood business than just about anyone in south Texas. And he would give a straight, non-political answer.
“I buy my fish straight from Alaska and my shrimp from the Gulf of Mexico,” said Jones. “It’s the best tasting, the safest and most reliable.”
“They are testing the heck out of whatever comes from the Gulf more than ever before,” Jones continued. “They can’t afford even one person to get sick from contaminated fish because that would ruin them.”
Apparently all the federal, state and local authorities agree with Jones.
TESTING FOR 12 TOXINS DAILY
“We haven’t found anything in open areas that failed a chemical test,” said Walt Dickoff, PhD, division director of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Seafood Safety Program.
Testing goes on several times each day throughout the Gulf States, looking at 12 different types of chemical and toxins. Strict rules and monitoring of vessels, fishing locations and water conditions are all in place.
“They will be testing out there for a long time, many months and they will be studying the fish, the animals, and conditions of the land and the water,” Jones stated. “Right now we are substituting shrimp for oysters until we can be sure it is okay.”
Like many restaurants across the country, Jones has kept an eye of how supply and demand has caused a roller coaster ride of prices.
“It looks like now that the oil has been capped off, people will start feeling better about Gulf fish,” Jones commented. “As many people as they have out there checking and testing, they are not going to let any bad fish go to the public.”
‘STAY AWAY’ FROM VIETNAM FISH
When asked about imported fish, Bud immediately responded, “That Vietnam fish, oh, I would stay as far away from that as I could. China is starting to clean up their act, but people need to be careful what they are buying because it may not be what they think it is”
Again, Bud Jones was right on the mark.
A July 22, 2010 report by the Health Sciences Center for Chemical and Food Safety raised new alerts over health risks of eating imported catfish grown in contaminated water and treated with drugs banned for use in U.S. fish-farming.
Inspections and recent history has shown imported fish from Vietnam can be contaminated with antibiotic, pesticide or bacterial residues. In Southeast Asia chemicals and antibiotics is scarcely regulated.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration inspects less than 2% of imported seafood. This is particularly alarming because much of the farmed fish on the Mekong River in Vietnam is the source of much of the products being sold in North America, Europe and Japan.
SEWAGE AND WASTE
The Mekong is so one of the most overcrowded and polluted waterways on Earth.
Animal and human waste, cement plants, salt factories and housing release industrial pollutants, sewage and waste water into the river, and farming fish ponds.
One local restaurant owner who asked not to be identified indicated they found out that some suppliers are trying to pass off Asian Pangasius as other types of fish.
“When we started seeing the prices escalating and getting inconsistent quality we took it off the menu,” said the owner. “We were paying a little over $22 for a bag of oysters and now they are trying to sell it to us for close to $50.”
Red Lobster recently pulled oysters from their menus across the country as did P&J Oyster Co.
Jones says if anyone has any concerns about their fish “tell them to come eat at Bud Jones
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