Late last night the California Senate passed seafood labeling legislation (SB 1138) in a vote of 25-10, directly following passage off the Assembly floor in a vote of 57-15. SB 1138, authored by Alex Padilla (D-Pacoima), will begin to tackle the complex problem of seafood fraud in the Golden State by requiring that all fish and shellfish be accurately labeled by the common name. Additionally, the legislation requires wholesalers and processors to label whether a species was wild-caught or farm-raised, and if it was domestically caught or imported. Oceana appreciates the steadfast and dedicated leadership of Senator Padilla to tackle seafood mislabeling in the state and applauds the California legislature for their overwhelming support. SB 1138 is now on its way to Governor Brown’s desk for his consideration to sign into law.
“SB 1138 addresses the growing problem of seafood mislabeling. To protect our health, oceans, and economy it is essential that seafood be labeled accurately,” said Senator Alex Padilla. "The seafood we order should be the seafood we are served," added Padilla.
Americans are routinely urged to eat more seafood as part of a healthy diet. Yet consumers are often given inadequate, confusing or misleading information about the seafood they purchase. With more than 1,700 different species of seafood from all over the world available for sale in the U.S., it is unrealistic to expect the American consumer to be able to independently and accurately determine what they are actually eating unless it is clearly labeled. SB 1138 will begin to turn the tide on seafood fraud.
“Many seafood businesses already provide this information, so this legislation will help level the playing field, while building consumer confidence in seafood,” according to Geoff Shester, California Campaign Director for Oceana.
Oceana, the bill sponsor, conducted one of the largest seafood fraud investigations worldwide between 2010 and 2012 by collecting more than 1,200 seafood samples from grocery stores, restaurants, and sushi venues across 21 states to determine if they were honestly labeled. DNA testing found that one-third (33%) of the samples analyzed nationwide were mislabeled. Alarmingly, California fared among the worst in the nation with 38% of seafood tested in Northern California mislabeled and 52% of seafood tested in Southern California mislabeled. Oceana also conducted a small sampling study in Monterey finding 36% seafood fraud.
“This is a win-win for public health and ocean health,” said Ashley Blacow, Pacific Policy and Communications Manager of Oceana. “Californians need Governor Brown to sign SB 1138 into law so consumers are empowered with the information they need to make an informed purchasing decision.”
SB 1138 passed the Senate unanimously in May; however, additional provisions were added to the bill since then to provide consumers with more specific information. As such, the legislation went back to the Senate yesterday for a concurrence vote.
Oceana is the largest international advocacy group working solely to protect the world’s oceans. Oceana wins policy victories for the oceans using science-based campaigns. Since 2001, we have protected over 1.2 million square miles of ocean and innumerable sea turtles, sharks, dolphins and other sea creatures. More than 600,000 supporters have already joined Oceana. Global in scope, Oceana has offices in North, South and Central America and Europe. To learn more, please visit www.oceana.org.