Alaska pollock name change closer to passing

The bipartisan bill to change the market name of “Alaska pollock” to “pollock” will be included in the major Congressional omnibus spending bill, bringing it a step closer to passing.

The bill, introduced by Senators Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) in late September, aims to legally change the acceptable market name to “pollock”, essentially outlawing pollock harvested in Russia from being passed off as “Alaskan pollock” in the supermarket.

In 2012, 113 million pounds of Russian pollock was sold to U.S. consumers as “Alaska pollock”, according to Cantwell.

Since the bill is part of the “must-pass” omnibus bill, Sen. Cantwell is “very optimistic” about its passage, according to Bryan Watt, spokesperson for the senator.

The labeling move is necessary because the Alaskan Pollock fishery is “far more sustainable and produces higher quality products compared to international Pollock fisheries”, Senators Murkowski and Cantwell said in a joint statement.

“Alaskan pollock is one of the most sustainable fisheries in the world, and American consumers deserve to know whether they are purchasing this high quality product or a cheap alternative with a misleading label,” Cantwell said. “By changing the acceptable market name to pollock, it will be illegal to label pollock caught in Russia, as Alaskan. Americans will be able to shop with confidence, knowing that they are buying the real thing and not a knock-off.”

The Genuine Alaska Pollock Producers (GAPP) also supports the name change, saying that the use of “Alaska pollock” is misleading and is understood by consumers to connote a geographic origin, not a particular kind of food from any geographic origin.

Fishermen and processors applied to have the name changed last fall. Then, after the FDA had declined to use their existing authority to change the acceptable market name of “Alaskan Pollock” to “pollock” earlier this year, Sen. Cantwell introduced the bill to require them to do so.


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