U.S. anti-fraud bill seeks full traceability
By Steven Hedlund, SeafoodSource editor
26 July, 2012
U.S. Reps Edward Markey and Barney Frank, both of Massachusetts, on Wednesday introduced legislation aimed at minimizing the prevalence of seafood fraud.
Called the Safety and Fraud Enforcement (SAFE) for Seafood Act, the bill would require full traceability for all seafood sold in the United States. The bill also calls for greater cooperation between the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. (In 2009, a U.S. Government Accountability Office report said federal agencies are not doing enough to prevent seafood fraud.)
U.S. Reps. William Keating, Walter Jones and Joe Courtney also co-sponsored the bill.
“If businesses are fraudulently serving a substitute, then it’s just wrong and has to be stopped,” Markey told The Boston Globe. This bill increases inspections, it increases penalties, and it increases coordination at the federal level and with state and local agencies.”
Oceana, which last year launched an anti-seafood fraud campaign, applauded the bill.
“Seafood fraud is cheating consumers, hurting honest fishermen and seafood businesses, putting our health at risk and undermining conservation efforts,” said Oceana campaign director Beth Lowell. “With a complete traceability system in place throughout the seafood supply chain, consumers and suppliers alike will no longer have to wonder if what they’re getting is actually what they paid for.”
The World Wildlife Fund also weighed in on the legislation. “This is a big step forward for all Americans, looking for a consistent supply of seafood that is safe and legal, and for those who already provide those products today” said Roberta Elias, deputy director of marine and fisheries policy at the WWF. “The bait-to-plate tracking of fish products envisioned in this bill will help to provide consumers and regulators more information on the source and identity of the seafood that is sold in our country.”
Just this week, Oceana reported that nearly one-third of the seafood it had tested in South Florida was found to be mislabeled. The Washington, D.C.-based environmental NGO has conducted similar investigations in the Los Angeles and Boston areas, with similar results.
There’s been a heightened awareness of seafood fraud in the mainstream media since last year when The Boston Globe ran a two-part exposé on the problem.
But seafood fraud has long been a problem. Since its inception in 2007, the Better Seafood Board, formed by the National Fisheries Institute, has worked to reduce the prevalence of seafood fraud, which ranges for mislabeling to short weighting.
Click here to read the SeafoodSource commentary “Fraud isn’t funny” >
Click here to read the SeaFood Business feature “Cracking down” >
26 July, 2012