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Restaurants in Alabama to be required to disclose country of origin of fish and shrimp

On Wednesday, Alabama lawmakers passed a bill requiring restaurants to disclose if the seafood they use in dishes is domestic or imported.

“The Legislature recognizes the important role that Alabama’s commercial seafood industry plays in our economy, and with foreign caught products flooding the U.S. market, it is essential that we support it, protect it, and promote it,” Brown said.

“By requiring disclosure if seafood is domestic or imported, we can encourage the use of products caught in Alabama and the U.S. while ensuring that consumers are better informed about the food they consume.”

The new law would require that advertisements for seafood products and dishes sold by food service establishments include the information under the bill’s provisions. It would also require restaurants to disclose if fish or shrimp products are farm-raised or caught in the wild.

RELATED: Britt, Tuberville work to protect farm-raised catfish industry

According to the Alabama Retail Association: “The bill does not apply to any retailer required to inform consumers of the country of origin under federal law. Grocery stores, supermarkets and club warehouses are subject to the Perishable Agricultural Commodities Act and must comply with the federal country-of-origin labeling law. Restaurants and in-store delis are exempt from the federal law, so would be required to comply with Brown’s legislation, should the governor sign it into law.

Restaurants and in-store delis that sell fish primarily for off-premises consumption would have to list the country of origin or denote that the product was imported in the same size and color font as the fish being sold OR post at least an 8.5 x 11 sign on a conspicuous wall near where the fish and shrimp is sold that is at least 3 feet from the floor using 1-inch or larger type.

Restaurants that sell for mostly on-premises consumption and provide a menu for customers can list the country of origin or denote that the fish is imported on the menu in the same location as the fish sold, using the same size and color font. The bill also allows the notification to be paper clipped to the menu. The notification can also be displayed on an 8.5 by 11 sign by the restaurant main entrance that is visible to all patrons if the restaurant doesn’t use menus as a standard business practice.”

The State Health Officer is tasked with enforcement authority and could assign civil penalties, including monetary fines, to ensure compliance. The legislation now goes to Governor Kay Ivey for her consideration and signature.

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