With final passage and signature of SB152 – Truth in Labeling, Louisiana has made it official and joins the growing list of states protecting consumers from mislabeling of products and demanding manufacturers adhere to “truth in labeling.”
“It is our responsibility to protect the consumer and the integrity of the agriculture food product,” said the state’s Agriculture and Forestry Commissioner Mike Strain. “The consumer has the right to know what they are buying and the public has entrusted us to let them know they are being told the truth about the product they are buying.”
The new law takes effect on October 1, 2020.
“We want to thank the bill’s co-sponsors, Senator Thompson and Representative Stefanski, along with Commissioner of Agriculture and Forestry Dr. Mike Strain for their leadership,” said Jackie Loewer, Louisiana rice farmer and chair of the Louisiana Producers Group. “They reached out to us [Louisiana rice producers] and the other agricultural commodities, to make sure this legislation was beneficial to both the farmer and the consumer in addressing the issues we face with the increasing mislabeling trend.”
While the legislation covers a wide range of commodity products, the establishment of a “standard of identity” for rice and the other commodities, is a significant step in the efforts to get the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to adopt similar standards for the American consumer.
Ross Thibodeaux, a rice farmer from Midland, testified about rice pretenders before the state’s House Ag Committee, saying, “We are proud of our stellar reputation as an industry, and it should be no wonder that anyone in the food business would gladly want to tout this marketing message that consumers have come to trust and respect. Various food companies have become increasingly emboldened in their marketing and sales strategies to advertise their vegetable products as if they were rice. Let me be clear, rice is a grain.”
USA Rice has been raising the issue of rice pretenders and the need for a federal Standard of Identity (SOI) for rice with FDA for several years. USA Rice maintains that an SOI is needed to combat deceptive and misleading advertising of these non-rice products and will continue to press the issue.
“The Louisiana law just adds to our arsenal of tools to press for more action against offending products and as more states join the ranks of Arkansas and Louisiana it helps shine a light on the issue at a national level.” said USA Rice President & CEO Betsy Ward.