Organic Seafood

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Although the U.S. has no official designation for organic seafood, progress is being made to establish standards.

The U.S. has no official designation for organic seafood. In California, it’s actually illegal to put the organic label on seafood—but some industry producers in other states do use the label, despite a lack of national guidelines. In part, a designation of “organic” is difficult to make in an industry where much of the product comes from the uncontrollable wild. However, two U.S. task forces are attempting to create such a designation, one focusing on farm-raised seafood, the other on wild-caught seafood.

Shrimp from two farms in the United States currently bear the official USDA organic seal. One, Florida-based OceanBoy Farms, raises organic pellet-fed shrimp in artesian well water free of chemicals and sells them under its Ecofish label. A representative of the USDA noted that the shrimp designations were an oversight; no additional seafood retailers will receive organic certification until the new panels establish organic guidelines for the industry.

Meanwhile, Holly Givens, communications director of the Organic Trade Association, suggests consumers conduct a little research. “If they see the word ‘organic’ on a fish produced in the U.S., they should see who certified it,” she advises. “Go to the certifier and check their standards.”