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HB335 Requires Restaurants to Tell Patrons They’re Eating Imported Seafood

Cooked shrimp

A bill adopted by the Louisiana Legislature will require all food service establishments to tell their customers if they are being served crawfish or shrimp imported from a foreign country.

House Bill 335, authored by Jerry “Truck” Gisclair (D-LaRose), was approved by the Legislature on May 31. According to the bill, “the state recognizes that serious risks to public health may be posed by antibiotics, radiation and numerous toxins found in seafood products … that originate outside the United States.”

Restaurants will be required to display on their menus the country of origin of imported crawfish and shrimp immediately adjacent to the menu listing. Restaurants not having a menu will be required to have an 18-inch by 18-inch sign posted at their entrances notifying customers.

Research conducted by former Louisiana State University doctoral student Murshida Khan and Louisiana Sea Grant College Program and LSU AgCenter fisheries specialist Julie Lively showed antibiotic and microbial residue on imported shrimp purchased at various markets and grocery stores in Baton Rouge during Winter 2016 and Spring 2017.

For antibiotic residue tests, out of 42 samples, 30 were positive for nitrofurantoin, two for malachite green, three for oxytetracycline and seven for fluoroquinolone. Nitrofurantoin, oxytetracycline and fluoroquinolone are antibiotics. Malachite green is an antimicrobial used in aquaculture.

Khan also discovered sulfite residue on all imported shrimp samples, with the exception of those from Ecuador. Sulfite residue was below U.S. Food and Drug Administration limits, but it was not included on the packages’ ingredient lists as required by law.

“While we knew a common reason for import rejection at customs is antibiotic contamination, we never expected to find this many samples readily available for purchase in Baton Rouge to test positive,” said Lively. “It was also really concerning for anyone with a sulfite allergy or health trigger that most of the shrimp was exposed to sulfite at some point, but not labeled.”

More than 90 percent of the seafood consumed in the United States is imported from other countries. Shrimp is the leading fresh or frozen product imported to the U.S., accounting for about 33 percent of all seafood imports by weight. The average American eats 4.4 pounds of shrimp and a total of 16 pounds of seafood annually.

Khan graduated from LSU in 2018. An abstract of her dissertation can be found at https://eos.ucs.uri.edu/seagrant_Linked_Documents/lsu/Khan_diss.pdf.

 

Learn more about Act 372-Restaurant Notice of Foreign Seafood (HB 335) put together by Louisiana Sea Grant Law & Policy Program and Louisiana Direct Seafood.
Download: Fact sheet — Act 372: Restaurant Notice of Foreign Seafood