1997 Regular Session
By: Representative Holland (By Request)
House Bill 944
(As Sent to Governor)
AN ACT TO AMEND SECTION 79-22-35, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO REVISE LABELING REQUIREMENTS FOR TILAPIA AND TO AUTHORIZE THE COMMISSIONER OF AGRICULTURE TO DETERMINE PENALTIES FOR VIOLATIONS; AND FOR RELATED PURPOSES.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI:
SECTION 1. Section 79-22-35, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
79-22-35. (1) No tilapia products shall be offered for direct sale for human consumption by a processor, distributor or retailer unless the tilapia product name is specifically labeled in the following manner:
(a) "FARM-RAISED TILAPIA," * * * if the product has been produced under the authority of a permit issued in accordance with the Mississippi Aquaculture Act of 1988; * * * or similar tilapia products produced under comparable conditions in any one (1) of the other states of the United States of America.
(b) "IMPORTED TILAPIA," provided the tilapia is produced from freshwater or salt water either according to the usual and customary technique of aquaculture or from freshwater lakes, rivers or streams of a country other than the United States of America.
(2) Any retailer selling tilapia products not wrapped or in a container may comply with this section by placing a sign on the display case or refrigeration unit reasonably visible to the consumer, giving notice that such tilapia is either * * * "Farm-Raised Tilapia" or "Imported Tilapia" as such products are defined in subsection (1) of this section.
(3) The Commissioner of Agriculture and Commerce may promulgate such rules and regulations as may be necessary for the efficient enforcement of this section.
(4) Before the issuance, amendment, or repeal of any rule or regulation authorized by this chapter, the commissioner shall publish the proposed regulation, amendment, or notice to repeal an existing regulation in a manner reasonably calculated to give interested parties adequate notice and shall afford all interested persons an opportunity to present their views thereon, orally or in writing, within a reasonable period of time. After consideration of all views presented by interested persons, the commissioner shall take appropriate action to issue the proposed rules or regulations or to amend or repeal an existing rule or regulation.
(5) The commissioner shall issue and enforce a written or printed "stop sale, use or removal" order to the owner or custodian of any lot of tilapia and to hold the tilapia at a designated place when the commissioner finds that the tilapia is being offered or exposed for sale in violation of any of the provisions of this chapter until the law has been complied with and the tilapia is released in writing by the commissioner, or the violation has been otherwise legally disposed of by written authority. The commissioner shall release the tilapia so withdrawn when he determines that such tilapia is in compliance with all provisions of this chapter.
(6) The commissioner shall have authority to publish the names and addresses of violators and such information pertaining to violations of this chapter as he deems appropriate.
(7) Any person who violates any provision of this chapter or which no other civil penalty is provided by this article shall, upon conviction, be subject to a fine of not more than Five Hundred Dollars ($500.00); however, no person shall be subject to penalties under this section for receiving for transportation any article in violation of this chapter, if such receipt was made in good faith, unless such person refuses to furnish, on request of a representative of the commissioner, the name and address of the person from whom he received such article, and copies of all documents, if any, pertaining to the delivery of the article to him.
(8) Nothing in this chapter shall be construed as requiring the commissioner to report for prosecution or for the institution of libel or injunction proceedings minor violations of this chapter whenever he believes that the public interest will be adequately served by a suitable written notice of warning.
(9) It shall be the duty of each prosecuting attorney to whom any violation is reported to cause appropriate proceedings to be instituted and prosecuted in a court of competent jurisdiction without delay. Before the commissioner reports a violation for such prosecution, an opportunity shall be given to the affected parties to present their views to the commissioner.
SECTION 2. This act shall take effect and be in force from and after July 1, 1997.