Congressman Steve Scalise has introduced an amendment to the Health Care Bill, H.R. 3962 in the Rules Committee today that requires the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to submit a report to Congress highlighting the economic impacts of the newly proposed Oyster regulations.
"Louisiana is home to some of the best restaurants in the world, and it is ludicrous to think that some bureaucrat in Washington knows more about oyster preparations than our great New Orleans chefs," Scalise said. "This amendment ensures that the FDA is held accountable, and has to answer to Congress before they impose any rules that affect the seafood industry."
The Louisiana Restaurant Association (LRA) stated that the proposed regulations can only harm the Oyster industry.
"We believe the FDA announcement is too extreme and would create severe economic distress to our vital industries along with our great restaurants," the LRA said in a statement. "Requiring oysters to be post harvest processed when they will be thoroughly cooked (frying, broiling, stewing, etc.) is particularly offensive to our restaurant establishments."
The proposed FDA regulations require that all Gulf Oysters harvested from April through October would have to undergo a sterilization process before they can be sold.
"Here in Louisiana we've been in the Oyster business for over 130 years," said Al Sunseri, President of P&J Oyster Company, Inc. "The Federal Government is trying to impose these guidelines by going through a backdoor with these regulations. With the amount of oysters that would need to be processed, we just couldn't meet that requirement."
The proposed regulations would go into effect in January 2011. Current estimates indicate that the sterilization process could only process 10 percent of the total amount of oysters produced. Louisiana produces one third of the nation's oysters, and the Louisiana oyster industry employs approximately 3,500 people.