4/11/14 Padilla Legislation Targets Mislabeled Seafood (From the Office of Senator Padilla)

For Immediate Release: April 11, 2014   
                                                           
Contact
: John D. Mann (916) 812-5569                                                                                                            
 

Padilla Legislation Targets Mislabeled Seafood
“Honesty in labeling is important to sea life and our health”

 
SAN FRANCISCO – Senator Alex Padilla held a press conference today at Aquarium of the Bay at Pier 39 in San Francisco to announce Senate Bill 1138 which addresses the growing problem of seafood mislabeling and its effects on public health, consumer choice, and sustainable fishing practices. The bill was approved by the Senate Health Committee this week on a bipartisan vote of 8 to 0 and now goes to the Senate Appropriations Committee for consideration.
 
Joining Senator Padilla was Crystal Sanders, Sustainable Seafood Manager for TwoXSea, a Bay Area sustainable seafood supplier, who conducted a seafood identification demonstration highlighting how easy it is to mislabel seafood. Also attending was Ashley Blacow, Pacific Policy and Communications Manager of Oceana, the largest international organization focused solely on ocean conservation, and Brian Baird, Director of the Ocean and Coastal Program for The Bay Institute & Aquarium of the Bay.
 
SB 1138 would make it unlawful for any person to knowingly sell mislabeled seafood. Spending on seafood in the United States has grown to more than $80 billion annually. Unlike beef produce, state law does not provide clear guidance regarding accurate labeling of seafood. The lack of standards has led to high rates of mislabeling throughout our state.  In a recent survey by Oceana, 84% of Southern California sushi samples were mislabeled and 58% of restaurants visited in Northern California mislabeled their fish offerings. SB 1138 is modeled after similar legislation passed in the state of Washington.
 
“SB 1138 will address the growing problem of seafood mislabeling. To protect our health, economy and oceans it is essential that seafood be labeled accurately,” said Senator Alex Padilla. "Honesty is always the best policy," added Padilla.
 
“Seafood consumers need accurate information about what they are buying to make informed decisions about their health,” said Ashley Blacow, Pacific Policy and Communications Manager of Oceana. “Senator Padill’s bill will ensure California consumers don’t get duped when buying seafood.”
 
"This bill is a common sense measure to allow consumers to know exactly what kind of fish they are purchasing and consuming,” said Brian Baird, Director, Ocean and Coastal Program, The Bay Institute and Aquarium of the Bay. “The Aquarium educates the public and many area businesses about making sustainable seafood choices, which depends on accurate seafood labeling. We applaud Senator Padilla for introducing this bill.”
 
In 2013, Oceana released the results of a nationwide study on fish sampled at retail outlets, such as restaurants, grocery stores and sushi bars including in San Francisco, Los Angeles and Monterey and found:
 
•           84% of sushi samples were mislabeled in Southern California
•           58% of restaurants visited in Northern California sold mislabeled fish
•           52% of all fish sampled were mislabeled in Los Angeles and Orange Counties
•           38% of all fish sampled were mislabeled in Northern California
•           27% of grocery stores visited in Northern California sold mislabeled fish
•           Southern California leads the nation in mislabeled fish
 
"The Oceana study revealed that half the tested seafood sold in California is routinely mislabeled.  SB 1138 will change that.  Honesty in seafood labeling is important to both our health and our oceans,” said Senator Alex Padilla.
 
While seafood is an excellent choice in a healthy diet, seafood mislabeling can lead to the consumption of seafood that is unhealthy and potentially dangerous. Certain species of fish can have unhealthy levels of mercury or can cause severe allergic reactions.  The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency gives a clear warning about the dangers of mercury to fetuses, infants, and children. The Food and Drug Administration recommends that women of childbearing age, pregnant or breastfeeding avoid eating certain fish such as swordfish and shark.
 
Seafood mislabeling undermines conservation efforts and threatens at-risk species. Conservation efforts rely on an informed public making responsible and sustainable choices. However, it is difficult to make sound choices if seafood is mislabeled. Between 1950 and 2006 the world’s annual fishing haul more than quadrupled, from 19 million tons to 87 million tons. The Census of Marine Life, a decade-long international survey of ocean life completed in 2010, estimated that 90% of the big fish had disappeared from the world’s oceans, victims primarily of overfishing.
 
Senator Alex Padilla, 40, graduated from MIT with a degree in Mechanical Engineering. He currently serves on the Board of MIT and is President of the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials. He is Chair of the Senate Energy, Utilities and Communications Committee and represents the more than 1,100,000 residents of the 20th State Senate District in Los Angeles.  For more information about Senator Padilla visit his website or follow him on  Facebook.
 
 
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