Health department cites 20 La. restaurants under new seafood labeling law

Updated: Sep. 23, 2019 at 10:52 PM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS, La. (WVUE) - The Louisiana Health Department is cracking down on restaurants and eateries that don't post where their imported seafood came from.

But, some local business owners like John Pham of C&A Seafood say the law doesn’t effect them much, because they always sell local seafood.

“We don’t sell the stuff we don’t eat,” Pham said.

He said he’s is proud to say his products are local and never imported from a different country.

“We want to make sure the shrimp is fresh and is good for our customers,” Pham said.

It's also the kind of seafood Louisiana lawmakers want to see sold in the state. This, after health concerns regarding contaminants in foreign seafood, as well as financial worries from Louisiana anglers.

Larose Democratic Representative Jerry “Truck” Gisclair sponsored the law and said he envisions it helping local fishermen in the long run.

“The goal is to have good demand for domestic products and, with demand, hopefully there will be an increase in the product,” Gisclair said.

The Department of Health started enforcing the law September 1, as part of regular restaurant inspections. According to representatives for the department, 20 restaurants statewide have been cited so far for not having the appropriate signage indicating their seafood was imported and from where. That’s out of an estimated 444 total restaurants inspected.

"I think that's great. This is a serious issue. We're not playing games. We're concerned," Gisclair said.

Pham said he’s concerned, too. Not only does he want what’s best for his customers, but Pham is also eager for an even playing field. If he has to pay higher prices and charge more for local, he said other businesses should have to be honest and open if their seafood is not.

“It’s not fair for us to compete with them if they buy cheap products from other countries like China,” Pham said.

In fact, from now on, Pham said he’ll display signage ensuring customers his seafood is local.

"It's very important for them to know we have very fresh seafood," Pham said.

A $1 million increase in funding for foreign seafood safety inspections has been approved as part of an appropriations bill, Senator John Kennedy announced Monday (Sept. 23).

According to a government accountability office report, only two percent of imported seafood receives FDA safety inspections.

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