Recently I attended a large dinner party at a Lakeland restaurant and the dinner order for everyone was swai, either fried or blackened. I was quietly upset as I was told that the fish of the day was to have been cod. Let me illustrate some facts about swai and my reluctance to consume this nasty fish.

Swai is a type of catfish farmed in waste and sludge ponds in Vietnam. Vietnam has extremely low levels of regulation. So you can imagine how carefree the farm owners are about mass producing and exporting this fish.

Numerous health organizations around the world have criticized the water quality of these Vietnamese fish farms. Several countries absolutely refuse to allow this nasty fish into their country. New Zealand shut their doors on any seafood coming out of Vietnamese waters due to their low level of regulation.

It is quite common these wastewater pits are stagnant water with rice patty herbicides running off into them and E. coli bacteria rampant in many. Swai are raised in a sewer, not catfish ponds as we would like to think.

Do the Vietnamese care? Of course not! Americans are too busy buying up the swai market and sending this sewer fish out to the tables of diners. Let me also add that in 2016 the United States turned away 40,000 pounds of swai for contamination issues.

So, just keep one thing in mind when you are sitting down for a great fish dinner: you are not consuming a nice cold water cod or even a clean water American-farmed catfish; you are preparing to consume a fish that feeds off a sewer bottom, eats untested antibiotic pellets and is writhing in E. coli.

Michael Murray, Winter Haven