Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) requirements at 7 CFR Part 60 and 7 CFR Part 65 require retailers to notify their customers of the country of origin of covered commodities, which include muscle cut and ground lamb, goat, and chicken; wild and farm-raised fish and shellfish; fresh and frozen fruits and vegetables; peanuts, pecans, and macadamia nuts; and ginseng. For example, seafood sold at grocery stores would be subject to the federal COOL requirements. However, a Louisiana bill would require those same requirements to extend to restaurant menus.
House Bill No. 335 would require Louisiana restaurants to label menus with the origins of shrimp and crawfish. The proposed law would require all restaurants that use a menu as a standard business practice and sell cooked or prepared crawfish or shrimp that originate outside of the U.S. to display on all menus the country of origin in letters no smaller than one-half inch in size, in English, immediately adjacent to the menu listing of the seafood item being sold. For restaurants that do not use a menu, a sign may be posted at the main entrance that notifies customers of the country of origin of the crawfish and shrimp. Any violation of the proposed law would constitute a violation of the state’s sanitary code. House Bill No. 335 has passed the Louisiana state house with unanimous support, and is currently under consideration by the Senate Health and Welfare Committee.
Louisiana is not the first state to use country of origin labeling laws in restaurants. Indeed, Alabama, Arkansas, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Tennessee all have state laws requiring origin labeling for catfish on restaurant menus.
House Bill No. 335 is not the only food labeling-related bill currently in the Louisiana state legislature. Senate Bill No. 39, if passed, would prohibit plant-based milks from being labeled as “milk” and Senate Bill No. 152 would ban plant-based and cell-cultured meats from using the term “meat” on labels and in labeling.