Capitol Alert

Jerry Brown vetoes seafood labeling bill

Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed a bill Tuesday that would have criminalized the selling of mislabeled seafood, handing another loss to lawmakers who pursued several high-profile efforts this year to give Californians more information about what they eat and drink.

“Much of what the bill seeks to accomplish is good,” Brown wrote in his veto message for Senate Bill 1138. “Requiring seafood producers and wholesalers to identify whether fish and shellfish are wild caught or farm raised, domestic or imported – these are reasonable and helpful facts for purchases to know.”

“Requiring more precise, species-specific labeling of seafood, however, is not as easily achieved,” he added.

Brown expressed concerns that the legislation – authored by state Sen. Alex Padilla, D-Los Angeles, to combat widespread fraud in California’s seafood supply chain – would “create uncertainties and complexities that may not be easily resolved” by requiring businesses to identify fish by its “common name.”

But he closed his veto message by praising the bill’s proponents for helping policymakers to better understand the health and sustainability impacts of seafood consumption. “Let’s continue to work to give California consumers information that will help them make wise decisions,” Brown wrote.

SB 1138 was not the only casualty of this year’s Capitol food fights. Legislation to label genetically-engineered food failed in the Senate, while a proposal to add warning labels to sugary drinks passed the Senate but died in the Assembly health committee.

Only a bill requiring vendors at farmers markets to accurately advertise where their produce is grown was signed this year.

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