Current Affairs / Health

Cause of Death: Consumption of Basa Fish

Is it possible that the after-school fish stick snacks you have been feeding your child could possibly be contaminated with deadly metals such as mercury?

Picture taken from Flickr:


Is it possible that the after-school fish stick snacks you have been feeding your child could possibly be contaminated with deadly metals such as mercury?! Unfortunately, the answer is YES. The dangers of consuming too much fish are usually paired with the not-so-rare disease hydrargyria (better known as mercury poisoning) but now it seems that there’s a new danger to this delicious after-school snack and ambient dinner main course.

A popular frozen fish product imported from Vietnam called basa fish just made the “Do Not Consume” list. Basa fish (known in the UK as Vietnamese river cobbler) is a type of catfish that is farmed in pens along the Mekong River. Basa fish is known for its mild taste and flaky white meat and is becoming the preferred type of fish among consumers because of its “cleaner” and almost bland taste compared to other types of farm-raised fish.

Consumers in The United States were introduced to basa fish in 1994 after the trade embargo with Vietnam was finally lifted. It was not a popular choice at first, but now it is a great competition for domestic catfish farmers. This is because basa fish is cheaper than catfish, has similar taste, and the quality of it is not any less. The quick rise in the basa fish’s popularity created the “Catfish War” in The United States.

A few years after the spike in popularity of basa fish, scientists discovered the danger of its consumption. Basa fish are farmed along the Mekong River—one of the most polluted rivers in the world. Large manufacturers planted along this river frequently dump extremely toxic and dangerous chemicals and industrial waste directly into it.   In June of 2001, the US Food and Drug Administration imposed increased and more thorough testing on Southeast Asian farm-raised seafood including the basa fish after repeatedly discovering fish contaminated with heavy metals and banned antibiotics.

Mekong River. Picture acquired from Flickr:

In March 2007, The Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service surveyed 100 fish from this river and detected 14 antimicrobial chemicals at low levels, including sulphonamides, tetracyclines, malachite green, penicillin, quinolones, flouroquinolones and phenicols antimicrobial chemical groups. Regarding these findings, Peter Collignon, director of microbiology and infectious diseases at the Australian National University medical school reports that “this means [that] antibiotics were used in the production of those fish… [and] superbugs can develop and they can remain [in the fish] and come across to people and cause problems.”

Farmed basa fish are not fed their natural foods. They are fed the bones and remnants of dead fish usually after a period of time after the fishes’ deaths—giving time for bacteria to grow and infect the “basa fish food.” These farmed fish are also often injected with dehydrated urine of pregnant women forcing female basa fish to grow and produce eggs quicker and the injection of hormones, imported from a pharmaceutical company in China, increases the speed of the growth and production processes of the fish. Farmers of these fish are only concerned with the progression rates and the income these fish bring in with no concern for the consumers.

To summarize everything in a few words: basa fish may be poisonous!

Side effects include vomiting, diarrhea and other effects that often stem from food poisoning. True, there may be a few out there who are able to tolerate the fish without having to suffer these side effects, but you should be aware of the health precautions.

Hopefully from now on, you will be aware of the potential risks basa fish poses to your health. It’s easy enough when you’re shopping for fresh fish, but be especially aware when buying packaged seafood like imitation crab, fish sticks, fish terrines, and even pet food. Simply flip the package to the back and check the list of ingredients to make sure that basa fish isn’t an ingredient.

Is saving a few pennies a pound worth the risk of exposing your family to such deadly fish? There is a chance the fish are completely clean and will cause no problems, but considering the risks, is it worth it to assume the fish are uncontaminated when it comes to your loved-ones? Keep in mind that if a price is too good to be true, most likely, it IS too good to be true!

145 responses to “Cause of Death: Consumption of Basa Fish

  1. @David, Is the USDA already inspecting Vietnamese tra and basa fish? I just did a quick read around … that these "Vietnamese fish" are not listed under "catfish" under the Farm Bill (USDA). Also, currently the FDA is responsible for the inspection of catfish and other seafood. And FDA inspects only 2% of seafood imported from VN. Of that 2%, one every five shipments was found to contain catfish contaminated with potentially deadly chemicals or drugs that are banned by the United States in farm-raised catfish. course I knew nothing about this topic, just did a quick read around.

    1. question: how can you tell the wild basa from the farm raised basa?

      answer: the farm raised basa are crosseyed from looking up into the hole from the outhouse.

      You choose what to eat!

    2. Newsdesk is not a credible a news source. In fact, they are responsible for toting acai and other fat reducing mega fruits into the market. My family and I have eaten and shared basa fish for about five years now, not a thing has happened and we are sensitive eaters. When the U.S. beef industry pumped tons of antibiotics into their cows, we had diarrhea and stomach problems. If there was problem the FDA would put out an alert. I.E. salmonella in lettuce from california

      1. I ate basa for the third and last time 2 weeks ago. Each time i was violently ill and just put it down to unclean fish and chip shops. The last episode, DIahorrea, vomiting. stomach cramps and passing out was the last straw. If it hadn’t been the fact my husband realised something was wrong and rang the ambulance i wouldn’t be writing this. I now can no longer eat my favourite food (seafood) and have to have a Epipen handy just in case i digest any fish products. Also i am going to start pestering NZ Health department to try and find out why this fish is available on our menu. Who is the Ministry of fisheries in NZ and what planet is he on to allow this poisoness rubbish into our country. Please anyone if you have concerns about this fish contact your health Department and get them to take notice.

        1. Well, any fish you defrost then freeze again would probably make you sick. There is nothing I think is wrong with the basa fish, just make sure it’s fresh and not re- frozen, I had some today, it taste good and I feel good. Good evening!

        2. On 5 December 2011 Basingstoke, England, I ate the so called Vietamise Cobbler or Catfish.  It tasted rather nice. It remined me of a mild flavoured place. At £3.50 a kilo from Tesco it was very cheap. Five hours later I started throwing up every 30 minutes with diarrea following. This continued for 36 hours.  I suspect that the fish was not thouroughly cooked.  My wife ate the same fish after it was well cooked. She had mild diarrea and sickness.  I started a course of Ethromycin 24 hours after the sickness began.  It appeared to have a benificial effect.   

  2. the wider implications eluded to in the article that i fear more are the dumping of chemicals and sewage into the Delta as well as the series of dams that are planned and built up stream. these selfish actions will wreck the ecosystem of the river leaving the next generation to ponder its beauty in textbooks. the article does a good job in pointing out the practical danger but it does more to raise awareness of the looming catastrophe. i’ve traveled from one end of the Mekong to where it reaches the sea and it’s a beautiful river both in it’s cultural and history. i hate to return to the river one day only to find a remnant something that was once an integral and central part of our culture.

  3. wow, hate to tell you this, I live in Vietnam in 16 years, each week my family eat 2 fishes (basa, tra, …) in many form of preparation. One year has approximate 48 weeks, 48*2 = 96 fishes per year, I live 16 years, total of 96*16 = 1536 fishes that I consumed. Now I live in US, my doctor said that I am very very healthy. Good amusing system and so on. I didn't count my mom in this, and she ate more than 3 fishes per week during 48 years of life eating 7056 fishes and get rarely or no disease at all. lol, my family is a very good example of eating healthy, lol.

    1. I’d say your lucky then! We should NOT be importing fish from FILTHY places like VN. Your people are not like us, u r dirty people who shit in the water u drink!! mmmmm…..real smart!! KEEP ur fish and diseases in ur own country!

      1. Cynthia, are you for real or just acting like an ignorant, white trailer trash looser? Is your mom and dad really brother and sister? It’s uneducated, misinformed assholes like you that give our country a bad rap. Go to school, you beer drinking, drug taking hick. Who raised u cynthia, a man or woman who wear white sheets on their heads and burn crosses!!!!!!!!!!!! Just don’t speak, think, or talk because u are a parasite on societies ass and your views mean nothing you idiot!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    2. Hi Guy! listen, I have a female patient in this morning to my clinic for medical treatment, she said that she bought nguyennhan Basa fish meal, and after her first one with the phenomenon of vomiting, abdominal pain and diarrhea , then taking her order after a week, relieved and health better, the next day she attended her wedding and returned with diarrhea and fever, after she was lying in the first week, this morning she arrives at my clinic for treatment.

      I am also a Vietnam but the Basa fish or processed foods take over from Vietnam we must be very careful because hygiene is poor, guy! I search youtube you go Basa fish in Vietnam coal bạn see all kind of dirty that chúng export food to other countries, I would say that if you use a dog, then dog also declined, never eat food from Vietnam exports through if you Do not want to die soon.

      Dr. Tien Lee

      1. Shrimp is a very clean animal, it can not live in dirty water.
        Most Shrimp, Basa fish, and Tilapia fish are farm raised in the delta of Mekong River in Vietnam.
        If the farmer can raise shrimp there: the water of the river is not dirty. Mekong River flow rate is about 50000 cubic meter/second , a lot of water , my friends.
        Go to Vietnam to see it for yourself, Mekong Delta is not far from Hochiminh City.

      2. Tien Lee: Take your Dr. off your name! What a fake! you can’t hardly write an understandable letter that filled with anti-Vietnam lies just like this author did.

      3. You do realise that the clips on youtube about Basa’s growing conditions show footage of fish produced for local consumption narrated, edited and spliced in such a way to trick the viewer into  thinking that is where the Basa they buy in their local supermarket comes from right?

        Basa exported from Vietnam meets strick export standards from start to finish and are not grown in the Mekong River but rather in strictly monitored and regulated ponds, just like they are in the US.

        Dont be so gullible.

  4. nothing wrong with basa fish, some assho** from VN just use a different name to export it. some other ass using deadly chemical to kêep the p?or fish fresh. same thing happend to shimp, they pump silicon inside the damn thing to make extra weight. the p?or farmer in VN take all the heat even they done nothing wrong.

  5. Sure the title is misleading in some way. There is NO death reported. The bottom line is? Most people might be just fine for years after consuming lots of these fish. The amount of those deadly chemicals, if found, are mostly near or at the minimal level of detection. There is NO need to push that panic button! You don't have to throw away the fish you already bought. The FDA had taken action against seafood imported from China (I couldn't found for VN yet but in worst case will be just similar to China) and clearly stated on their website: FDA believes that risk to U.S. consumers due to these drugs in seafood products from China is minimal, and do not represent an immediate risk to public health. FDA's action is precautionary.Keyword: Precautionary.

  6. @phuong Vu: becarefull with coffe Trung Nguyen 3 in1 intall coffe sell in some Vietnamese market in USA. FDA ban it on US market after they found Flu treament drug inside to make it taster bitter like coffêe. most of Vietname market in Little Saigon area had replace this brand name with nestle now.

  7. This story is crap, probably black propaganda planted by the US Catfish Association. The plants where the tra and basa (Mekong catfish) are processed and packed are regularly inspected and OK'd by the US Dept of Agriculture. The only city of any size upstream of the area where the tra and basa are raised is Phnom Penh; it is pre-industrial and the amount of waste that it contributes to the mighty Mekong's flow is trivial.All 'farmed fish' will bear traces of antibiotics. That includes US-raised catfish.The American catfish farmers have been trying every dirty trick and legal obstacle they can find to keep tra and basa out of American supermarkets. Don't be fooled. Bác David in Hanoi

    1. First time eating BASA tonight. Pan Fried it………… “Very Tasty” Called my Mother, a fish lover” and said you have to try this fish, it is delicious. She said ive never heard of it, I said neither had I, the seafood clerk told me its a very mild fish and very good. Which it is, now reading this crap…Hopefully I want drop dead from eating some fish imported from Vietnam and some mixed vegetables from Florida, grown overnight and with my Coke Zero made with shit I cant even pronounce. Im quite sure if make threw the night, my doctor have several choices of medicine that will make me all better, couple with some side effects, but he have something for the side effects as well. Cant wait to bake some Basa in a garlic sauce, UHMMMMM Good!

  8. @Phuong Vu — Vietnam has been jerked around for years on catfish exports to the US. As soon as Mekong Delta producers began to gain market share, the American catfish farmers were onto them with a trade complaint that VNse fish shouldn't be labled as 'catfish.' Then, after the Vietnamese industry spent six years building up recognition of 'tra' and 'basa' fish, and were still gaining market share despite hokey 'dumping' penalties, the US growers got the Congress to pass a bill redefining 'tra' and 'basa' as catfish, and under the control of the US Dept. of Agriculture. Vietnam's fish raisers have reason to believe the American are inconsistent. As an American, I'm embarrassed.Phuong, thanks for the correction re USDA inspections. My memory failed me. The inspections are pending, and the Vietnamese producers are gearing up to pass with high marks. Check out these VietNamNet Bridge stories:

  9. It's in the billions of USD business no wonder both sides would do anything to protect themselves. But as a consumer I'd like to know both sides of the story, facts and the risks involved, then make my own judgement.

    1. Yes they are! Very little is inspected, less than 2%. The FDA counts on the honesty and integrity of the importers. They only check repeat offenders due to financial constraints. Basa have been tested from these fish farms and poisons are found in them. You can’t look at the basa and tell if it’s been raised well or poisoned. The urine injected, the pollution IN THE RIVER are not denied or deniable. Geez people need to wake up!

    2. I am from Canada & buy my BASA at Safeway & the deli sales associate told me Safeway does not buy and sell anything that is not not approved by the Canadian Health Regualations. similiar to FDA in the States…it it isn’t the beef from Canada, chicken from wherever. vegis from California etc. Has anyone ever been to a chicken/egg packing plant or meat packing plant? Probably never want to eat chicken/eggs again. I will eat BASA, as for some reason Tilipia is in short supply right now, but once Safeway gets Tilipia back , I won’t be eating BASA.

  10. This is why you always … ALWAYS … say grace before you eat, to bless what you present to the body that you’ve been blessed with. Father God, I give you all the honor, praise, & glory. I ask that you please bless this food that it may be of nourishment to my body, in Jesus name. Amen.

  11. To Hong Han, your case cannot justify others. Some people might have died without reported as they live in country side by the Mekong River. Yet, many people without educated or as lucky as you to live here. The article does not mention at the time of 20 years ago but about what happens nowadays. Due to economy growth, Vietnamese Farmers might have pushed too hard effort to feed and export fishes without well inspection. By year after year, the comtination would be found more and it may be too late to stop it.

  12. So the fish are injected with urine from pregnant women? Amazing, what an achievement, given the thousands of tonnes that are exported monthly, and therefore the millions of fish that have to be injected. They must have teams of thousands of workers injecting fish night and day just to keep up. Not to mention of course the valiant women, who on finding out they are pregnant queue up to donate their urine in a never-ending flow. Really – does anyone actually believe this ridiculous propaganda? Like with any great lie, as soon as one part starts to appear false, the whole lot starts to unravel.

  13. i agree i think the american catfish farmers are upset and making all this worst and adding to it because this basa is getting super famous and very tasty they are loseing market share… brings us back to when the mexican candy was brought in the u.s. all the american candy makers started slinging mud at them just as it is happening here .. im not saying they dont add this or that for growth etc.. but im sure the american companies do the same

    1. Absolutely!! How about all the hormones and antibiotics that are give to our cattle and poultry? Nobody mentions that. How is it possible to get a fryer hen to be 5lbs plus in just a few short months? It doesn’t take rocket science. Our meat raising techniques are just as warped as anyother county.

  14. Unless the author is planning to work for a sensationalistic news company, I’m very disappointed that an English graduate student would write this without any specific sources (sure, a few studies/work done by various governments are mentioned, but I want to see a source to the reports and get the whole picture so I can judge for myself). And as one commenter pointed out, the title is completely misleading and in my opinion irresponsible. Is there an actual documented case of death by eating basa like the title suggests? This article raises more questions than it does public awareness and, therefore, loses all credibility.

  15. i have fish and chips shop in australia,sell basa ,even they know they are still eat ,like it .there is nothing happpen .if the fish is not healthy,why all the country, they let them imported?are they stupid or corruption to let the fish imported?

  16. So sad ….picked up some basa fish… now don’t know what the heck to do with it …don’t want to take any chances..that it could be contaminated…it is a cheap fish but can’t trust eating it with all these l guess l’ll just stick to my home town rainbow trout….


  17. I called at the Aldi store today to get some frozon fish to feed to my cats as a special treat

    I boiled the basa fillets and when they had cooled dished them up for my cats.
    The cats sniffed the fish and walked away.

    That is why I accessed this website.

    What do the cats know that we do not?

    1. Basa is known as a very mild tasting fish. The fact that it doesn’t make the house smell “fishy” when it’s cooking is touted as another selling point by some. Cats like smelly food. Boiled basa isn’t going to tempt any felines I know.

  18. (Note: This import alert represents the Agency’s current guidance to FDA field personnel regarding the manufacturer(s) and/or products(s) at issue. It does not create or confer any rights for or on any person, and does not operate to bind FDA or the public).

    Import Alert # 16-131
    Published Date: 01/14/2011
    Type: DWPE Import Alert Name:
    “Detention Without Physical Examination of Aquacultured Catfish, Basa, Shrimp, Dace, and Eel from China- Presence of New Animal Drugs and/or Unsafe Food Additives”

    Reason for Alert:
    There has been extensive commercialization and increased consumption of aquaculture seafood products worldwide. Aquacultured seafood has become the fastest growing sector of the world food economy, accounting for approximately half of all seafood production worldwide. Approximately 80% of the seafood consumed in the U.S. is imported from approximately 62 countries. Over 40% of that seafood comes from aquaculture operations. As the aquaculture industry continues to grow and compete with wild-caught seafood products, concerns regarding the use of unapproved animal drugs and unsafe chemicals and the misuse of animal drugs in aquaculture operations have increased substantially.

    China is the largest producer of aquacultured seafood in the world, accounting for 70% of the total production and 55% of the total value of aquacultured seafood exported around the world. China is currently the third largest exporter of seafood to the U.S. Shrimp and catfish products represent two of the top ten most consumed seafood products in
    the U.S.

    The use of unapproved antibiotics or chemicals in aquaculture raises significant public health concerns. There is clear scientific evidence that the use of antibiotics or chemicals, such as malachite green, nitrofurans, fluoroquinolones, and gentian violet during the various stages of aquaculture can result in the presence of residues of the parent compound or its metabolites in the edible portion of the aquacultured seafood. The presence of antibiotic residues may contribute to an increase of antimicrobial resistance in human pathogens. Moreover, prolonged exposure to nitrofurans, malachite green, and gentian violet has been shown to have a carcinogenic affect.

    In the United States, use of malachite green, nitrofurans, fluoroquinolones, or gentian violet as drugs in food-producing animals would require an approved new animal drug application under Section 512 of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FFDCA). FDA has not approved these antibiotics for use as drugs in aquacultured animals. Therefore, if they are used in aquaculture with an intent that they treat disease in, or affect the structure or function of, any aquacultured animal, they are considered to be unsafe new animal drugs within the meaning of Section 512, and the presence of their residues in seafood adulterates the seafood under 402(a)(2)(C)(ii) of the FFDCA.

    Furthermore, malachite green, nitrofurans, fluoroquinolones, and gentian violet are not generally recognized as safe under any conditions of intended use that may reasonably be expected to result in their becoming a component of food. Therefore, if intended for any such use, they are unsafe food additives within the meaning of section 409 of the FDCA and would render the food adulterated under section 402(a)(2)(C)(i).

    FDA has several existing Import alerts related to unapproved drugs in seafood dating back to November of 2001 (IA #16-124 DWPE of Seafood Products Due to Unapproved Drugs, IA #16-129 DWPE of Seafood Products Due to Nitrofurans, and IA #16-130 DWPE of Eel from China Due to the presence of Malachite Green). Based on an increased monitoring of imported aquacultured seafood from October 1, 2006, through May 31, 2007, FDA continued to find residues of unapproved new animal drugs and/or unsafe food additives in seafood imported from China. During that period, FDA tested 89 samples consisting of catfish, Basa, shrimp, dace and eel from China. Twenty two (22) of the 89 samples (25%) were found to contain drug residues. These residues include nitrofurans detected in shrimp at levels above 1 ppb; malachite green detected in dace, eel and catfish/Basa fish at levels ranging from 2.1 to 122 ppb; gentian violet detected in eel and catfish at levels ranging from 2.5 ppb to 26.9 ppb and fluoroquinolones in catfish/Basa at level ranging from 1.9 to 6.5 ppb. Furthermore, Chinese authorities have acknowledged permitting the use of fluoroquinolones in aquaculture.

    Although the use of some animal drugs (nitrofurans and malachite green)in aquaculture has been prohibited by Chinese authorities since 2002, FDA continues to find residues of these and other animal drugs in shipments of aquacultured seafood products from China.

    1. Moron….you might have noticed that this alert is for Basa (amonsgst other seafood) from CHINA.

      You might not be aware that China and VIETNAM are two different countries.

      Probably all just “gooks” to you though right?

      There is no FDA alert for Basa from Vietnam.

      Nice try though.

  19. This article is completely ignorant and bias toward Vietnamese basa fishes. For e.g., the fishes are not farming across the Mekong Delta. They are being farmed in control condition such as in a pond with regulated food. Imported fishes from anywhere coming into the USA and EU must pass certain quality examination that includes necessary international certification in order to reach consumers. Vietnamese basa fishes have to go through the same process. FDA usually examine the farming facilities every 2 year for quality control. Tthis article pointed to subjective perception of the fish and could hurt farmers in the Mekong Delta. The author needs to study further before making false accusation.

    1. Totally agreed with you. It’s all about business. The U.S. Fishing farmers are just greedy and want to have control over the whole market. People, please don’t forget how our catfish have to end up with the name Basa. Simplely because the big bully guy said “you can’t name your fish cat fish because we owned that name or if you have the same name as our fish it will affect our income.” Preatty bully, is it?


  21. I bought Basa Fillets today from my Aldi store. I really enjoyed the fish and now I have read some really negative commets on this website and others about the fish, can anyone say if this fish is good to eat?

  22. This blogger repeats arguments that can be found elsewhere on the internet, but gives zero citations to back it up. Wikipedia article on Basa indicates that tests show no contamination, and reports to the contrary are as yet unsubstantiated.

  23. as A vietnam Vet. I think we should Noy Buy Anything From VIETNAM I can’t Believe We Still Have a trade embargo With Cuba & Not Vietnam. This Country Has No Respect For All The M.I.A. & K.I.A.

    1. I cant believe that Richie feels that Vietnam has no respect for “All the MIA & KIA”.

      Is the source for you “information” the Chuck Norris “Missing in Action” movies?

      What about the tens of thousands of Vietnamese KIA’s and MIA’s? How about Dioxin?

      Should Vietnam embargo the US?

      In fact the Vietnamese show the greatest respect for MIA and KIA. In the last couple of years the bodies of the last 4 Australian MIA’s were located and repatriated home.

      This would not have been possible if it were not for the overwhelming assistance of the Vietnamese government who showed the greatest respect during the entire process.

  24. So why the fuss over Basa?

    Here in the UK where Cod and Haddock have been fished to near extinction and are now more expensive than beef it is good to find a fish that actually tastes good unlike our own Cod which is so bland.

    It is disturbing nontheless to read such stuff about our food but I dont think it will deter me from eating Basa. After all, we keep eating beef and that was a risk a few years ago with CJD and Foot & Mouth and I haven’t fallen over in a stupor or had my feet rot away!! I do have a fungal nail though mmmmmmmmmmm! Makes you wonder dunnit?

  25. Tilapia fish and Basa fish are farm raised in the delta of Mekong River. American Cat Fish Farmer complains about Basa Fish , but not the Tilapia fish, Why?

    1. The farmers use the Tilapia to eat the catfish poop and keep the pools clean.  Look up the “Dirty Jobs” show that was about catfish farming.  They show and tell what the use the Tilapa for and then they sell them as fish to eat too!

  26. This is a very poorly written article with no credible source to back it up. You stated that “basa fish may be poisonous” yet ultimately referred to it as a deadly fish. Which is it? This is all propaganda pushed by US catfish farmers. The US soy industry exports 95,000 metric ton of soy to Vietnam each year for the tra-fish feed. The push for ethanol has created a rise in price for corn to feed the catfish also. What do you think US farmers do? …Switch to growing because of the lower profit margin in catfish, hence the shortage of US farm raised catfish. A disruption in imported fish from Vietnam means low exports for the soy industry. Guess who’s left standing bent over grabbing their ankles? This gets passed on to restaurant owners who can’t afford to buy US farm raised catfishes without raising menu price.

    1. Your right about credible sources for this article.  However, it’s no secret that the waters of the Mekong River are heavily poluted and it stands to reason that what’s in it may also be poluting the basa fish too.  There’s no shortage of catfish were I’m from in the south.  I think the article has reasonable merit and can’t be disproved either!  I’l stick to local fish!!

    2. absolutely agree, basa and related catfish are some of the most commonly eaten fish in the world and no one gets sick from them. I lived in southeast Asia for 6 years, ate this fish all the time and never ONCE got sick. Half the world eat fish from that area and suffer no ill effects. Even in Asia, if a farmer started passing poisoned fish, they would very quickly go out of business. Remember most of the new billionaires are in Asia now, they are not stupid and don’t eat poisoned fish.

    3. I AM A SOURSE TO BACK IT UP. I ATE THIS FISH FOR THE FIRST TIME TODAY AND WAS POISONED FOR 2 HOURS CONSISTING OF DIARRHEA AND THROWING UP!!!! I’m always with food and never have thrown up from anything so quickly. I decided to google it and this is what i come across. I believe it just because of what happened to me. Plus look at that damn river! it’s filthy!!!!!

      1. Hey Connor, Im from Glasgow and I bought a bag of frozen Basa fish from Aldi’s as it was cheap and thought it would make a nice meal, first time I tried it was last Friday (3 days ago) and i was violently sick but I thought I had a bit of Gastroenteritis as my daughter had the bug all last week so I thought nothing of it. Anyway, tonight I decided to try the Basa fish again and I have just been violently sick again, I then did the exact same thing you done – googled it and ended up finding this somewhat frightening information about Basa fish, I am going to share this page with all my friends and family as I feel that this fish is a risk to peoples health and i will certainly not be buying Basa again!

      2. i never tried it and accidentally bought it thinking it would be something new to try…. not knowing what it was until i read up on it. now im scared to even cook it. i think ill pass cooking it for my family (me & my kids) i surely cant risk any one us getting sick. but id like to know how much you consumed? 

      3. The same thing happened to me..Had it for the first time followed by stomach cramps,.diarrh
        ea & sickness all night ….felt terrible. .Bought it from Tescos in good faith. Will be reporting this to them

    4. For health reasons, I consume alot of raw foods including fish. I eat basa all the time and the only ‘cooking’ it gets at all is from th citrus in lemon and limes. I have never once gotten the slightest bit ill and i eat it about 3 times a week. I do the alternate days with salmon.I have several autoimmune disorders and get periodic blood tst for,,,,,, idk what all but they about drain me. lol Anyway everyone should be able to decide for themselves as i can’t stand the taste of catfish.

  27. I don’t know who are the bigger fools, from reading all of these comments. The ones who Eat these Basa, or the ones who keep ragging on the FDA for trying to warn people that there is something wrong with this fish. I know, people have a tendency to rebel against “Big Brother” for trying to regulate everything we do but, I think that until there is something proven either For or Against consuming these fish, I’ll do without them!!! I’m pretty sure I’ll be healthier that way.

  28. My son was just terribly poisoned and extremely ill from eating this Basa fish he purchased at the Safeway store in Tucson Arizona. This trash fish should be banned from entry to the U.S.A. He is still not well after three days. Do not purchase any of it and notify the people you know. That river is full of chenicals and dirty filthy water.

        1. Ed Tune stop calling everyone out and telling them to prove themselves. We don’t have to prove shit! so if you don’t have a problem with the damn wish, why the hell are you here?! I have been poisoned by it today and have only consumed the fish today so i know it was this disgusting fish. You’re probably just a disgusting contaminated person for eating this disgusting contaminated fish since you have not gotten sick from it. So leave us healthy people alone!

  29. OMG, I just ate this fish yesterday at a place called “cod chippery” in Westfield, NJ, but didn’t realize it til it was already cooking. Never heard if the fish, and we ASSUMED we were eating cod, hence the restaurants name! Went home, researched it, and found THIS! Ugh!

  30. This article is based almost entirely on a hoax email that was doing the rounds a couple of years ago put out by unknown parties but presumably those with an interest in the US catfish industry.

    This propaganda from those with a vested interest in keeping you spending your money on their more expensive US produced product and relies on inherent racism and fear in the reader to believe that those gooks are selling us poison fish!

    Fact is that Basa is probably the safest fish to consume in the world.

    It passes EU, US/Canada, Aust./NZ export standards, HAACP certified etc. etc. It has been exported for more than 10 years.

    Export Basa IS NOT grown in the Mekong River.

    Basa for local consumption is grown in the river as the average person cannot afford the export grown product.

    The Basa industry in VN is a multi-million dollar ultra-modern industry.

    If there was a problem with Basa it would not be imported to the EU/US/Canada/Australia/New Zealand.

    Please stop peddling this propaganda.

  31. i ate this damn basa fish today for the first time, 4 hours later i was throwing up and had diarrhea for 2 and a half hours! THIS FISH IS POISONOUS! never eat it i am warning you now! dont make me say i told you so!

  32. I first ate basa fish a few years ago.  It made me sick, which I attributed to possible improper cooking, but I never ate it again.

    I bought a package of frozen basa fillets just last week and ate one, making sure to cook it properly.  The next day I felt queasy and had diarrhea.  I wondered if it was the basa fish itself and not the way it had been cooked, so last night I tried once more.  I spent about 2 hours vomiting and dealing with diarrhea at the same time.  Both were purchased at Safeway, so perhaps it also has to do with where you buy it. Either way, I will never eat that fish again.

  33. I agree with many of the comments that label this as typical Yankee bigotry, I am a 72 year old Brit( at the moment living in Thailand). In the UK both my 75 year old sister and I have eaten Basa and thoroughly enjoyed it with no adverse affects what-so-ever. We think it is some of the best fish we have ever eaten, and we will continue to do so. Countries would not allow importation if any was contaminated. 

  34. I had Basa Fish for the first time yesterday and loved it. I loved it so much that I had it again today. I purchased it from a local grocery store and cooked it myself. Also a good friend ate with me and neither he nor I have suffered any illness from it.

    1. The majority of fish of any kind you buy today in the USA today comes from another country like China, Morocco, Mexico and many others. I worry about the vegitibles from Mexico more then fish from Vietnam.

  35. This “article” is little more than a remix of the even more poorly written one you can find copypasted all over the net and passed off as science.  Do you really think first world countries with massive food inspection import bureaucracies and consumer protection and safety agencies would not have noticed if these fish actually had  dangerous levels of toxic chemicals or heavy metals?  Not to mention so many people eat these that it would rapidly become obvious if they were that unhealthy.  Also, anecdotal evidence of some random person getting sick from eating fish does not mean anything other than the fish was probably not prepared properly, probably defrosted at room temperature or undercooked.  This whole thing smacks of urban legend disinformation chain-mail, most likely started by those who would rather keep selling their expensive fish.  Basa is cheap because it’s fast growing and cheap to farm, not because it’s poison.  Also it’s somewhat lacking in “fishy” flavor, which for some may be a good thing..

  36.  I love Basa fish… I eat it several times a week. I find it one of the tastiest fish on the market and great value for its price. I am a health fanatic and won’t eat anything detrimental to my health. As an intelligent human being I realize that no food source is absolutely free of contaminants in this day and age… after all we live in a polluted world. I find it refreshing to find a new food source high in protein and nutritional value and low in the kind of contaminants found in the processed foods that western cultures consume on a daily basis… If you want to find things that will make you sick… look on the label of any pop bottle… canned good…. fast food product… or even your drinking water!

  37. LOL lot’s of commenters here need to look up the Post-Hoc fallacy in regards to eating the fish then becoming ill. The fallacy is assuming that just because even A precedes B that A caused B. It essentially means you are stupid lol. 

    Toxins are problem with all fish these days and other sources with proper citation have stated that the toxin levels are not dangerously high. 

    As for bacteria, there are very few situations where bacteria can survive 70 degrees Celsius. Cook your food properly and you wont get food poisoning. Its not a problem with the fish, its a problem with your kitchen hygiene.

    I’ve been eating Basa for 8 months on and off and never had any problems. Both fresh and the frozen ones from ALDI in Australia. I looked this up because one of my friends mentioned he had heard something about it but after reading a few sources I’m going to keep eating it I think.

    I think I might search my uni database for some REAL studies though.

  38. All of you may be surprised to know that a parasite (Opisthorchis viverrini) lives in the waters of Southeast Asia that causes liver cancer. The cancer is called “Cholangiocarcinoma”. Over 40 million people are infected with food-borne trematodes. Over 6 milion people are infected with the parasite in Thailand “Worms in Asian fish linked to rare cancer”. Over 20 % of Vietnam was sprayed with Dioxin (Agent Orange) and could be in the fish you choose to consume “Dioxins in Vietnam Food Chain Concentrate and Increase As thy Move Up the Food Chain in Animals and Fish”. Vietnam veteran spouses are receiving compensation (service connected) for the loss of loved ones “Cancer Parasite Liver VN Connection”. In most supermarkets the common names of fish imported to the U.S. are :basa, tra, swai, tilapia, pangasius, and others. Please do the research.

  39. Violently sick three times now whilst eating this fish all purchased from aldi and different batches. You’d be stupid to think that was a coincidence! I have a pretty iron stomach so whatever is in that fish isn’t natural! Enough said

  40. Just had some last night and haven’t had any ill side effects. It’s a bunch of propaganda crap from us fish could every basa fish be contaminated. Is everyone stupid enough to think that every basa comes from the Mekong in Vietnam ?

  41. Quote:
    ‘It is very easy to mislead consumers by showing pictures of cottage industry farms which produce fish for consumption by local villages, but these have no relation to the modern corporate run fish farms located in deep water in the nine mouths of the Mekong Delta, where the Himalayan snow melt provides a massive turnover of fresh water,’ Mr Peters said.

  42. I am Victor Eyo from Nigeria studying Fisheries and Aquaculture in the University of Calabar at M. Sc level. in my opinion, Basa fish should not be circulated for consumption again because of the level of mecury it contains but since the fish is highly appreciated for its taste and meat quality, it should be cultured intensively in an artificial environment where pollutants are controlled before distribution and subsequent consumption.

  43. I eat basa fish a lot, around 3 times a week, never even knew there was a problem with it until I came across this article…
    Firstly I’m slightly confused by this info, it isn’t that cheap to buy, I bought some yesterday and think it was more expensive than cod, but still bought basa as I prefer the taste.
    Secondly, surely the if there was such a problem the major UK supermarkets wouldn’t sell it – yet it’s been available for years and I’ve bought it from pretty much every major supermarket in the UK.
    Thirdly, I’m pretty impartial on this, I like basa but if there’s a problem with it then I’ll stop buying it – but like I said, I’ve never had any sickness related illness with it, can I then take it it’s okay to eat?
    Lastly, isn’t all fish bad up to a certain degree? Arn’t all our waters polluted in some way? Even if we looked into chicken or bacon and inspected some of these abattoirs would we not find some facts to make us question its negative aspects to our health?
    Just my little say on the matter, maybe I’m talking out my arse here and none of my points have any value, if so, I’ll blame it on the basa!

  44. I’m starting to worry with all these negative comments about the Basa fish. I’ve been buying this fish (in Canada) for how many years now and so far nothing like what I’ve read happened. If this is really a dangerous fish to eat, why is the Canadian government (other countries who are importing this fish as well) still let it to come to the country? Disappointing and frustrating but I have also concerns about the meat being sold in RCSS when it’s turning green already – time when the meats should be disposed off and NOT sold on sale price. Consumers are still paying even if its on sale and it’s not right to let them get sick just because they’re paying less. Something has to be done on matters like this. Don’t you think so?

  45. I love this fish and am appalled by the scare tactics obviously generated by the farm fish industry in direct competition with this delicious healthy affordable fish. If we put all the other farmed fish under the microscope none of us would eat it. See what the Australian board on Imported Seafood says:

    Don’t believe everything you hear and read.. everyone seems to have an agenda.
    Personally I believe this fish is a good and affordable healthy choice and I love the taste and texture…

  46. This girl has no knowledge of the fish industry and catfish. If she has done her reasearch, everything she stated is slanderous and prejudice from the US Catfish Farms which spread lies… There is no reliable source from her writing except “if it’s on the internet, it must be true…”

    Here is a few sources for you to reconsider and rewrite your articles… Girl, please stop researching your article on just, okay??? You are like the insurance commercial, french boyfriend on the internet…everything on the internet must be true… 🙂

    Here is a good source: see below

    ©Andrew Grygus –

    Seeing competition from Vietnam, American catfish farmers organized an
    expedition to that country to gather dirt for a propaganda campaign. They found
    no dirt. As one catfish man said, “We went expecting to find catfish
    raised in polluted waters and processed in primitive facilities. That’s not
    what we found, and we’re scared to death”.

    With the actual truth solidly against them by their own admission, American
    catfish farmers have proven less ethical than even the Congress critters they
    seek to “influence”. They have succeeded in getting legislation
    passed interfering with imports of Vietnamese fish, though that success has
    turned into a sort of comedy of errors. They have also spread lying articles
    all over the Internet, some so absurd only Tea Party members could believe
    them. Their advertising campaigns have been denounced as deception and half
    truths even by the U.S. Government.

    Some Internet articles have even played the “mercury in fish”
    card. Mercury is a problem only with large predatory fish living in the oceans
    – and not much of a problem even there. Vietnamese catfish is a freshwater fish
    and not a predator, so mercury is not a concern.

    At the behest of the catfish farmers, Congress passed a law that only
    “Channel Catfish” could be called “Catfish” in the United
    States, preventing some 2000 other species of catfish from being called
    catfish. Distributors briefly called Vietnamese catfish “China Sole”,
    but that was a bit deceptive, so they settled on “Basa”. That was
    also a little inaccurate, because what was being shipped here was mostly Swai.
    Americans can’t tell the two apart, but the Vietnamese can, and keep the Basa
    for themselves. Vietnamese catfish is now packaged and sold mostly as
    “Swai”, which is accurate.

    The major effect of this name change is that Americans who think they don’t
    like catfish now buy this fish and enjoy it – but it gets even worse for the
    catfish farmers. The Chinese started raising Channel Cat for export to the
    United States. As is usual in Chinese practice, the product was often
    adulterated. This caused the Feds to require extra testing (at extra cost).
    Knowing the Chinese would find a way to sneak their fish in disguised as
    American raised catfish, the testing is required for all catfish. This
    means added cost for American catfish growers as well.

    Now, guess who’s catfish doesn’t need to pay the inspection cost because it
    can’t be called “Catfish”. So the catfish farmers went back to
    Congress asking for the Vietnamese to be forced to call their product
    “Catfish”. They also asked for import control to be transferred from
    the FDA to the USDA, a process that could have stopped Vietnamese imports for
    up to three years. Both these efforts have failed – so far.

    Of course the American catfish industry is actually suffering, and
    production has declined, but it’s not primarily from Vietnamese competition.
    The main cause is much higher feed costs resulting from Congress’s brain dead
    “Food into SUV Fuel” ethanol program.

    sf_catvnz 110310 –

    ©Andrew Grygus – – Photos on this page not
    otherwise credited are © cg1
    – Linking to and non-commercial use of this page permitted


    1. Fish of a Feather
    By: Gersh Kuntzman is also a columnist for The New York Post.

    Why is Vietnamese catfish cheaper than the American variety? Our columnist
    criticizes the hypocrisy of global trade rules—and shares the results of his
    taste test

    Here is an article from New York Times:Reprints

    October 9, 2008

    A Cat f i sh by An y Ot her N am e


  47. Also you should avoid any fish which claims to be ‘white tuna’ cause albacore tuna is not labeled as such until it’s canned, any raw tuna like for sushi etc labeled as white tuna has thus far 100% been a type of snake mackerel called escolar which is mildly toxic due to the high amount of wax esters in it’s meat and can cause severe digestive disturbance and cramps along with an unpleasant diarrhea where you expel the excess oil out your anus and it can even cause anal leakage! Pleasant, huh? There is a huge problem with illegal fish substitution especially, substituting low cost, even illegal fish like escolar for higher priced albacore tuna, grouper, cod, red snapper! So if you eat some saltwater white fish and end up sick, instead of food poisoning, it may be escolar toxicity! Learn your fish as best as you can and try getting your fish from a reputable fishmonger! Be Well!

  48. Bought it from Coles Sunshine coast Qld. Would expect the quality but i ended up with stomach cramps from this fish second time in a row now. Funny bland tasting, its like your body is already telling you while its in your mouth, “you are about to be sick after this meal”.
    I wouldnt recommend it. Im writing this with stomach cramps and headache pulling all my energy down to my stomach. Not good.
    take care all–

  49. Water is a carrier of bacterial diseases including E. Coli and Salmonella. The polluted Mekong river where the fish is raise and where the frozen basa are packed into boxes and shipped throughout the world. As a food Safety inspector, the water which the fish is grown, the ice for the cooling and wash water used in the fillet packinging process needs to be tested for these bacterial. Also a tissue sample from the fish is need to test for heavy metals and pesticides. Without these tests, there is no confirmation of the possible sickness that can affect human beings that also results from poor handling and environment.

  50. My Wife bought some Basa Fish…….. She knows I like Cod…so she thought try something different…… we had it poached with vegetables,,,,, I instantly disliked the taste….. it seemed to have a woody/mushroom flavor ….at first she liked it…so I added extra salt…. Angies Brother liked I thought it must be my taste buds playing up…..well… 1am I was in the bathroom being very unwell…. I was vomiting what seemed like neat bleach….no work for me on Tuesday…..Angie was also ill…took her 2 days to feel up to work,,, I am experiencing nausea on and off,,,, no mote experimenting for me…..NO MORE BASA……

  51. I had basa fillets for lunch and dinner today. Oven baked wrapped in tin foil seasoned with salt, pepper, diced garden tomatoes and green garden onions drizzled in olive oil and lemon. It’s midnight and I feel just fine!

    I love all these people who come on here and claim they just ate some basa fish “today” and got “violently” ill for hours continuously throwing up, then they get on-line and post what happened to them.

    I don’t know about you, but if that was me, I’d probably be in bed or worse, at a local hospital. Last thing I’d be doing is telling everyone on-line how gravely “sick” I was just a few hours earlier. Laughable liars.

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