Alabama Senate to consider seafood labeling bill

Fishing vessels in Alabama
Fishing vessels in Alabama | Photo courtesy of Shutterstock/Leigh Trail
2 Min

Legislators in Alabama are considering a bill that would require restaurants and grocery store delis in the U.S. state to display country-of-origin information.

Introduced by State Representative Chip Brown (R-Hollinger’s Island), the legislation would force Alabama businesses selling seafood to notify customers where their products originated and whether it is wild-caught or farm-raised. The Alabama State Department of Public Health would be tasked with enforcing the new requirements.

“The seafood industry is essential to the economy throughout Alabama’s Gulf Coast region, and with foreign-caught products flooding the U.S. market, we must take every step to both support it and protect it,” Brown told the Alabama Daily News. “By requiring disclosure of the country of origin for seafood, we can encourage the use of products caught in Alabama while ensuring that consumers are better informed about the food they consume.”

On 20 March, the Alabama Senate Agriculture, Conservation, and Forestry Committee amended and approved the bill, sending it to the full Senate for consideration.

Bayou La Batre Mayor Henry Barnes has voiced support for the legislation, while suggesting it doesn't go far enough. In August 2023, the Bayou La Batre City Council approved a resolution declaring shrimp dumping to be a disaster. Barnes also wrote a letter to Alabama Governor Kay Ivey asking her to take action.

“It’s a step in the right direction,” Barnes told WKRG. “Our community has been involved in commercial fishing well over 150 years and is known as 'The Seafood Capital of Alabama.' Our seafood industry is being squeezed out of existence due to the continued dumping of imported shrimp. I and many others fear that our way of life will become extinct and forgotten."

The neighboring U.S. state of Louisiana has a similar law requiring restaurants to note on their menus whether the shrimp or crawfish they’re selling is domestic or imported. However, a 2023 Louisiana Illuminator investigation found that the state did not have a mechanism for punishing violations of the law, meaning the government had yet to issue a single fine despite issuing 2,671 citations for violations.

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