Ab 820 Page Date of Hearing: April 29, 2015 assembly committee on agriculture




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AB 820

Page


Date of Hearing: April 29, 2015

ASSEMBLY COMMITTEE ON AGRICULTURE


Henry T. Perea, Chair

ABPCA Bill Id:AB 820


Author:(Mark Stone) – As Amended Ver:April 22, 2015

SUBJECT: Fish and shellfish: labeling and identification.

SUMMARY: This bill requires all fish and shellfish sold in California for human consumption to be clearly labeled at the point of sale, whether they are wild caught or farm raised. Specifically, this bill:

  1. Declares legislative intent to provide funding for: 1) spot inspection of all sellers of fish or shellfish at the final point of sale to verify that the label is truthful, 2) further investigation; and, 3) DNA testing of samples as a result of an investigation or consumer complaint.

  2. Requires that Pacific red snapper not be used as an alternative name for the following fish:




    1. Sebastes entomelas (widow rockfish).

    2. Sebastes flavidus (yellowtail rockfish).

    3. Sebastes goodei (chilipepper).

    4. Sebastes jordani (shorbelly rockfish).

    5. Sebastes levis (cowcod).

    6. Sebastes melanops (black rockfish).

    7. Sebastes miniatus (vermillion rockfish).

    8. Sebastes ovalis (speckled rockfish).

    9. Sebastes paucispinis (bocaccio).

    10. Sebastes pinniger (canary rockfish).

    11. Sebastes ruberrimus (yelloweye rockfish).

    12. Sebastes rufus (bank rockfish).

    13. Sebastes serranoides (olive rockfish).




  1. Requires that Butter fish not be used as an alternative name for the Anoplopoma fimbria (sablefish).




  1. Requires any fresh, frozen, or processed fish or shellfish (fish and shellfish) and shellfish sold or offered for sale in California for human consumption by any restaurant, retailer, wholesaler, distributor, processor, or packager,(sellers) to be clearly labeled at the point of sale, whether they are wild caught or farm raised.




  1. Defines processed, for purposes of this bill, as cooking, baking, heating, drying, mixing, grinding, churning, separating, extracting, cutting, fermenting, eviscerating, preserving, dehydrating, freezing, or otherwise manufacturing, and includes packaging, canning, jarring, or otherwise enclosing food in a container.




  1. Provides that if a fish and shellfish seller can show they acted in reasonable reliance on the fish and shellfish label and invoice, they are not in violation of branding.




    1. Provides that once a fish and shellfish seller proves reasonable reliance on the fish and shellfish label and invoice, that the burden of proof for a violation shifts to the previous supplier in the supply chain until the violator is identified.




  1. Declares legislative intent to increase penalties for violation of fish and shellfish mislabeling laws.




  1. Requires any retail food facility that sells or offers for sale any fish or shellfish for human consumption to clearly label at the point of sale whether they are wild caught or farm raised, and not knowingly misidentify whether the fish or shellfish is wild caught or farm raised.




  1. Defines processed, for purposes of this bill, as cooking, baking, heating, drying, mixing, grinding, churning, separating, extracting, cutting, fermenting, eviscerating, preserving, dehydrating, freezing, or otherwise manufacturing, and includes packaging, canning, jarring, or otherwise enclosing food in a container.




  1. Provides that if a retail food facility or restaurant that sells fish or shellfish shows they acted in reasonable reliance on the fish and shellfish label and invoice, they are not in violation of mislabeling.




    1. Provides that once a retail food facility or restaurant proves reasonable reliance on the fish and shellfish label and invoice, that the burden of proof for a violation shift to the previous supplier in the supply chain until the violator is identified.


EXISTING LAW:


  1. Establishes the Sherman Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Law (Sherman Act), administered by California Department of Public Health (CDPH), to regulate the contents, packaging, labeling, and advertising of food, drugs, and cosmetics.




  1. States any food misbranded if its' labeling is false or misleading in any particular way. States any food misbranded if it is offered for sale under the name of another food.




  1. States any food for which no standard of identity exists as misbranded unless it bears a label clearly stating the common or usual name of the food.




  1. Requires any label of any retail cut of beef, veal, lamb, or pork held for sale , as specified, to clearly identify the species and the primal cut from which it is derived, and the retail name. Exempts ground beef, boneless stewing meat, cubed steaks, sausage and soup-bones from this requirement.




  1. Permits CDPH to adopt regulations that name and describe the characteristics of salmon and any other fish or other seafood it considers appropriate. Requires CDPH to consult with the Department of Fish and Game (CDFG) and other stakeholders, as specified, and prohibits CDPH from adopting any regulation that conflicts with the common name of any fish designated by CDFG, as specified.




  1. Establishes misdemeanor penalties for violations of the Sherman Act, including the misbranding of food. Penalties may include up to a year in the county jail and fines of up to $1,000, or up to $10,000 for repeated violations, as specified.




  1. Permits CDPH, in addition to the misdemeanor penalties, to assess civil penalties for violations of the Sherman Act of up to $1,000 per day.




  1. Requires the attorney general, any district attorney, or any city attorney to whom CDPH reports any violation of the Sherman Act, to begin appropriate proceedings in the proper court. Allows CDPH to issue written notice or warning for minor violations, as specified.

  2. Allows, in the California code of regulations, the 13 varieties of fish (see point 2) in summary above to use the common market name Pacific red snapper, and Anoplopoma fimbria (sablefish) to use the common name Butterfish.

EXISTING FEDERAL LAW:


  1. Establishes the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, enforced by the federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA), to regulate the safety of food, drugs, and cosmetics.




  1. Deems food misbranded if, among other reasons, its labeling is false or misleading in any particular way, if it is offered for sale under the name of another food, or it is an imitation of another food without being labeled as imitation.




  1. States in FDA Compliance Policy Guides: The labeling or sale of any fish other than Lutjanus campechanus as "red snapper" constitutes a misbranding in violation of the federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act.

FISCAL EFFECT: Unknown. This bill is keyed Fiscal by Legislative Counsel.

COMMENTS: In 2013, Oceana released a two year study on fish sold for retail in San Francisco, Monterey, and Los Angeles. The study found that 90% of sushi samples were mislabeled in Los Angeles County, 38% of all fish were mislabeled in Northern California, and with 52% of sea food tested being mislabeled, southern California leads the nation in mislabeled fish.
Mislabeling defrauds consumers, restaurants, and fishermen when a more expensive fish is ordered and then is substituted with a less expensive, less desirable fish. Restaurants are victims of fraud when fish distributors sell falsely labeled fish. Fraud is unfair to fishermen who fish responsibly and lose profits when fish caught unsustainably are sold in their place.
Furthermore, according to the author, mislabeling fish can lead to the consumption of seafood that is unhealthy and dangerous; specific fish can have unhealthy levels of mercury. Additionally, shellfish can be illegally harvested from areas that have been deemed too polluted for commercial fishing. Eating mislabeled fish can lead to potential health risks, especially to vulnerable populations, such as children and pregnant women.
Under current federal and state law, it is already illegal to mislabel fish or shellfish. As the recent Oceana study shows, seafood mislabeling is not strongly enforced. This bill proposes to address this issue by strengthening enforcement of existing state laws to combat seafood fraud by providing additional funding for retail spot inspections at the final point of sale, and by increasing penalties for seafood mislabeling. The sponsor states this bill will improve transparency in the marketplace by requiring the identification of seafood products as wild-caught or farm-raised. This bill does add protection for entities that unknowingly sells mislabeled fish, if the entities have documentation to show the product was mislabeled when purchased.
One of the most mislabeled fish identified in Oceana’s study was red snapper. In California, the study discovered none of the snapper tested was even from the snapper family. The study found the majority of tested fish labeled as snapper were actually rockfish, tilapia, or seabreams. Currently California regulations allow 13 different species of fish sold within the state to be labeled Pacific red snapper. In most other states “red snapper” refers to a specific reef species, Lutjanus campechanus, which is only found in the western Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico. FDA policy is that labeling rockfish as “red snapper” constitutes a misbranding in violation of the Federal labeling laws. By prohibiting the identification of rockfish as Pacific red snapper, this bill will bring California in alignment with FDA policy, which California defers to for most other seafood product identification, and will provide transparency to California consumers, state supporters.
Opponents object to the new requirement that restaurants identify whether the fish or shellfish was wild caught or farm raised. According to opponents, this is information that any patron may request before choosing to select an eating establishment or before choosing to order a particular item in an eating establishment. Many restaurants do this on their own for marketing or other purposes and that is the best way to approach this particular issue.
Opponents state this bill also prohibits the use of common market names allowed by the California Fish & Game Commission since the 1970s, including the term Pacific red snapper. The California Fish & Game Commission, by regulation, allows the name Pacific red snapper to assist in the marketing of 13 species of rockfish which allowed thousands of grocers and restaurants to be able to group 13 species of fish into one name, recognized by millions of consumers. This is a drastic and unclear change, insist opponents.
REGISTERED SUPPORT / OPPOSITION:


Support

Oceana (Sponsor)

Anaheim Convention Center

Environment California

Friends of the Earth

Monterey Coastkeeper

Passionfish Restaurant

Pier 23 Café

Shark Stewards

Sierra Club, California

The Otter Project

WILDCOAST



Opposition

California Fisheries & Seafood Institute

California Restaurant Association

Grocery Manufactures Association




Analysis Prepared by: Victor Francovich / AGRI. / (916) 319-2084


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