SANTA MONICA (CBSLA.com) — A Pacoima lawmaker wants to create criminal penalties for anyone who sells mislabeled seafood in Southern California.
Last month, Senator Alex Padilla introduced Senate Bill 1138, which would require labels on all varieties of fresh, frozen, or processed fish or shellfish to clearly identify the species of fish or shellfish by its common name.
KNX 1070’s Ron Kilgore reports Padilla was joined Monday by representatives of ocean conservation advocacy group Oceana and the owner of a Sacramento-area fishery to address the growing problem of seafood fraud and its effects on public health.
The legislation comes in response to DNA testing last year by Oceana that found more than 40 percent of the seafood samples taken from California restaurants and grocery stores were mislabeled, including 52 percent of all fish sampled in Southern California and 84 percent of all sushi sampled in Los Angeles and Orange Counties.
By creating a new crime, SB 1138 would impose a state-mandated local program to enforce existing laws in the wake of the study, which found fish sold as halibut in some cases was actually determined to be flounder. Some Pacific salmon was also actually determined to be Atlantic salmon, while some salmon labeled as wild caught was actually raised on a farm.
But Andrew Gruel, founder and CEO of SLAPFISH restaurant group said the real power lies with the consumer.
“We press a lot with people that we’re buying our fish from to know exactly where it’s coming from, and the more questions we ask them, if they don’t know the answers, then we usually just move on,” Gruel said.
A hearing on SB 1138 has been set for April 9.