Louisiana restaurants now required to label imported seafood

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Governor John Bel Edwards was in Houma Wednesday to sign into law a bill he and its sponsors hope will provide a boost to Louisiana’s sagging seafood industry.

Edwards signed House Bill 335 at a luncheon at The Shack, a seafood restaurant on the east side of Houma, WWL-TV reports.

The new law requires restaurants serving foreign shrimp or crawfish to post notices about the food’s country of origin on menus or on a sign posted at the main entrance to the establishment. The Louisiana Department of Health will enforce the regulation. Failure to provide the information would be a violation of the state’s sanitary code.

The bill was authored by Rep. Jerry “Truck” Gisclair, D-Larose, and unanimously passed the state House and Senate.

“We’re going to make sure that the consumers who come to Louisiana, and those who live here, will just know what they’re eating,” Edwards said. “If they prefer and want to request Louisiana seafood, then they’re going to be able to do that. Otherwise, they’re going to eat at a restaurant and just assume that they’re eating Louisiana seafood.

“At the end of the day, we hope this drives demand for Gulf shrimp and Louisiana crawfish.”

The bill, and ones like it in the past, have long been opposed by the Louisiana Restaurant Association on the grounds that it would place an undue burden on restaurant proprietors.

But Douglas Davis, owner of The Shack, said he supports the law wholeheartedly.

“I think it should have been done years and years ago,” Davis said. “I think it’s going to stop a lot of mis-branding and misrepresentation in restaurants. That’s a big problem. This is a good law, and it will definitely do some good.”

Acy Cooper, president of the Louisiana Shrimp Association, said imported shrimp and crawfish present a safety issue.

“Imports are taking over,” Cooper said. “They’re full of antibiotics, they’re full of steroids, and people need to know what they’re eating. People need to know where it comes from and what’s in it in order to make good decisions on whether to eat it or not.”

One of the diners at The Shack during the lunch rush today, Seth Gintz, lives in South Carolina, but said he frequently comes to Houma on business. Gintz said when he does eat in Louisiana he wants Louisiana seafood.

“I think (the new law) is fantastic,” Gintz said. “I think we need to start supporting local people and the local economy. Plus I love the flavor of it. It’s the best shrimp in the water. I wish our governor would get on board with this and promote this as well.”

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