Just this past week, the House of Representatives voted to repeal country-of-origin labeling (COOL) for beef, pork and chicken. At this point it is unclear how this will affect COOL labelling for seafood.
We have been working hard the past few years to promote local Gulf seafood, how to source it, and what questions you as the consumer can ask at your local fish market or seafood restaurant.
Right now, when you visit your local fish market or seafood counter in the supermarket, they are required by law (COOL) to display where the seafood was harvested. Often times it will also specify whether the seafood is farm-raised or wild caught.
We wanted to pass on some things to keep in mind when ordering seafood next time at a local restaurant or when you are about to purchase something to prepare at home.
Always ask your server where the seafood is from! They may not know, but can always go and ask their manager or chef where things were harvested. With oysters, the restaurant is required to keep the tags on hand in the kitchen so that everyone can easily see where they were harvested or grown. Sometimes servers may just tell customers what they think they want to hear, whether or not the information is correct.
At the fish market or supermarket fish counter, always ask where the seafood is from if there is no signage. The fishmonger behind the counter should be able to tell you where items are from. Ideally, consumers can visit their local fish market and select the whole fish they would like filleted for them if that is what is being purchased.
MarketMaker is a resource that enables seafood consumers to locate local fish markets and seafood restaurants that support our local Gulf seafood industry. It is easily accessible on mobile phones at al.foodmarketmaker.com.
Our take home message to you, the consumer – eat Gulf seafood and/or U.S. seafood!