La. restaurants face new rule for shrimp and crawfish

Gov. Edwards signs seafood labeling bill

HOUMA, La. (WVUE) - It’s now the law -- restaurants in Louisiana must inform their customers if the shrimp and crawfish they serve is domestic or comes from a foreign country.

Governor John Bel Edwards signed House Bill 335 into law Wednesday (June 19) at The Shack, a restaurant in Houma that serves loads of seafood.

Edwards said the law was a long time coming.

"All the folks from the shrimp industry who are here today, they’ve been fighting to have a bill like this signed into law for a couple of decades,” Edwards said, just before he signed the legislation before dozens gathered around him.

The new law requires restaurants to have the information on their menus or noted elsewhere in their establishments.

When asked if he was optimistic that the law can be properly enforced, given that thousands of restaurants are operating in Louisiana, the governor said he is.

“Sure, the Department of Health will enforce it, and I believe, first of all, the people who serve cooked and prepared shrimp and crawfish could be on notice, it’s a pretty simple bill,” Edwards said “If the origin of the shrimp and crawfish is foreign, they have to say that and they have to say it on the menu, if they have a menu in their business, or they have to provide notice on the storefront or the doors you walk through if they don’t use a menu.”

People working in Louisiana’s seafood industry like Dean Blanchard of Grand Isle believe the new law will protect the reputation of local seafood.

"Our problem was people would come down here, eat the shrimp, well one time they got a good shrimp, one time they got a bad shrimp. They never knew where that shrimp was coming from,” Blanchard said.

The governor echoed that sentiment.

“Because we know that the vast majority of people who are here, who travel here and that go into a restaurant to eat, unless they’re told otherwise, they believe they’re eating Louisiana shrimp or Louisiana crawfish. We also want to make sure that the food that we serve here in our state is the safest as it could possibly be," Edwards said.

Douglas Davis owns The Shack and said many customers already ask where the seafood on the menu comes from.

"I think the benefit of letting your customer know is local benefits. They know their product is from here and it’s a fresh product, it’s a safe product, that’s the main thing, no antibiotics and stuff like that,” Davis said.

Kim Chauvin of Blue Water Shrimp Company said there will be discussions about how people in the industry can also check on restaurants’ compliance with the new law.

"It would be that we go into a restaurant, we buy the product and then we send it off for DNA sampling,” said Chauvin.

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