Lawmakers cracking down on seafood imports

Seafood imports could be facing new, more stringent regulations.

A new food safety bill introduced Tuesday in the Senate would tighten restrictions on foreign seafood that is exported to the U.S.

The Imported Seafood Safety Standards Act seeks to bring the same level of scrutiny to foreign seafood importers that domestic seafood producers already face, said Sen. David VitterDavid Bruce VitterBiden inaugural committee to refund former senator's donation due to foreign agent status Bottom line Lysol, Charmin keep new consumer brand group lobbyist busy during pandemic MORE (R-La.), who introduced the bill.

“Seafood plays a major role in Louisiana’s culture, small businesses, and economy, which is why it is so important to protect consumers and our Louisiana seafood industry,” Vitter said in a statement. “My legislation levels the playing field between local small businesses and seafood producers and the big foreign exporters by holding everyone accountable to the same quality and safety standards.”

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The seafood legislation expands on previous food safety bills Vitter has backed.

Currently, less than 2 percent of foreign seafood is tested before it's imported into the U.S., experts say.

Not only does this present dangerous health consequences for consumers, but it is also crippling to many local seafood businesses that face tighter regulations, critics say.

But the Imported Seafood Safety Standards Act would increase the number of inspections and strengthen testing standards for foreign seafood exported to the U.S.

The bill would also require that seafood be imported only through designated U.S. shipping ports that are prepared to inspect the products for food safety.

The penalties for companies that intentionally mislabel seafood products would be raised, while repeat offenders could be banned from exporting seafood here.