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California Approves Resolution AJR57 Urging the Federal Food and Drug Administration to Provide Consumer Warning

State Legislators take action to reduce preventable exposure to methylmercury in seafood
Assembly Joint Resolution 57 (AJR57) introduced in April by Assemblyman Jared Huffman (D-San Rafael), and co-authored by Assemblymember’s Ed Lieu (D-El Segundo), and Ira Ruskin (D-Los Altos), received final Senate approval and was adopted into record on August 13, 2008.  The legislation urges the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to develop a comprehensive consumer advisory that includes seafood testing and labeling for making healthy seafood selections.The FDA has continually resisted conducting public notification stating that doing so could result in a reduction of seafood sales and consumption.  They have chosen instead to rely upon the seafood industry to provide contamination warnings through a “nuanced approach”.  Discharging their responsibility to the seafood industry has proven ineffective for communicating vital health information to the public at large.

The FDA has historically attempted to prohibit states from taking independent action for notifying the public by claiming federal preemption rights. Health Analysts for both California’s Assembly and Senate Health Committees recommended adding language to the resolution that the FDA should assist the state with advisories rather than prohibit their efforts.  A recent 3rd Circuit New Jersey Court decision raises significant challenges to the FDA’s claims of federal preemption, citing instead the FDA’s failure and lack of effort to advise the general public.