U.S. Sen. David Vitter this week introduced a bill to enhance the safety of seafood imported into the United States. The bill builds upon previous legislation authored by Vitter that prevents the admission into the United States of all seafood products that do not comply with requirements established under the Federal Food, Cosmetic and Drug Act.
"Ensuring the safety of imported seafood products is vital to protecting consumers and the seafood industry in Louisiana," said Vitter. "Last year, I introduced a bill to prevent "port shopping' and stop importers from attempting to bring in substandard products after first being denied entry at a particular port. This legislation goes even further and includes increased standards to help ensure the quality and safety of imported seafood products."
Louisiana's Commissioner of Agriculture & Forestry Mike Strain added his support for the measure.
"All foreign seafood coming into this country needs to be held to the same standards as that of our domestic seafood industry. We know we have safe, quality seafood products that American consumers want, and we are developing a certification program in Louisiana to ensure the public of our commitment. We think that this is the first step of many to protect our American seafood consumers," said Commissioner Strain.
A.J. Fabre, president of the Louisiana Shrimp Association, expressed appreciation for Vitter's efforts to strengthen the seafood industry in Louisiana.
"On behalf of the Louisiana Shrimp Association, I would like to thank Senator Vitter for his hard work and the dedication and concern for the American consumer he's shown by introducing the Imported Seafood Safety Standards Act," said Fabre. "Given the fact that less than 2 percent of imported seafood is tested upon entry into our country, we feel this legislation will add the needed food safety protection for American consumers."
Vitter's bill requires increased inspection and testing standards for all imported seafood products and limits imports to designated ports of entry. Further, the bill increases penalties on individuals or organizations that knowingly mislabel products and provides for a ban on certain countries or producers who violate these enhanced standards.
"Our state has a rich fishing heritage that provides many Louisiana families with their livelihoods and is a central component of Louisiana's unique cuisine," Vitter added. "Given these traditions, I believe that seafood imported from other countries should be held to the same high standards we place on our own seafood."