Bill forcing sellers to clearly mark seafood origin advances House committee

BATON ROUGE — The proposed bill requiring seafood sellers to mark whether their products are local or from other countries advanced the House Health and Welfare Committee unanimously Wednesday.

SB 166 author Sen. Patrick Connick, R-Marrero, showed a picture of a package of frozen crawfish sold at a local supermarket. The item was named “Boudreaux’s Crawfish” but was a product of China, not Louisiana.

Bill to mark seafood correctly. Sen. Patrick Connick held up a package of "Boudreaux's Crawfish" sold at a local supermarket, but is actually from China
Sen. Patrick Connick held up a package of “Boudreaux’s Crawfish” sold at a local supermarket, but is actually from China

“Louisiana has a substantial governmental interest in enacting this law to protect its public from misleading and deceptive marketing practices, which is a health safety issue. It’s a human rights issue,” Connick said. “They are using our label, our name, our image, our culture, but it’s Chinese shrimp, Chinese crawfish.”

Around 80 to 90% of seafood is imported, with half of that being farm-raised, according to the Louisiana Seafood Promotion and Marketing Board. Louisiana is the second-largest seafood producer in the U.S.

Connick says the bill to require sellers to mark where the seafood is from is also a health concern in addition to a commercial issue.

A 2013 study by researchers at a North Carolina chemical engineering firm and North Carolina State University revealed that 25% of the seafood imported from Asia and available at retail outlets in North Carolina had detectable levels of formaldehyde. Several antibiotics have been found in farm-raised fish such as tilapia, including leuco-malachite green, which the FDA banned for aquaculture use in 1983 because of “serious toxicity.”

“People need to know if you’re going to buy this cheap product, there’s a chance that it’s contaminated,” Connick said. “It has not been tested, and your health can be affected by it.” 

Connick’s proposal is one of a group of bills moving through the Legislature to increase fees and safety checks on imported seafood, both for consumer safety and to help Louisiana shrimpers and crawfish farmers.

The legislation will force businesses to clearly state if their products are imported or not.

The bill now heads to the House floor anf if the bill becomes law, it will go into effect Jan. 1, 2025.

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