May It Please The Court

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May It Please The Court
by Leonard Rivkin
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Quote of the Day - There's a fine line between fishing and just standing on the shore like an idiot. - Steven Wright
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What Causes The Color In The Salmon You're Eating?

If it's farmed salmon, then you're not going to know in the near future.  The California Court of Appeals blocked an attempt by several non-profit corporations to challenge the alleged practice of adding artificial food coloring to fish feed, if it's true.  Two years ago, they sued a group of supermarket chains alleging that the grocers didn't disclose whether the salmon they sold was wild or farm-raised, and if farm-raised, then whether artificial food coloring was added to make the salmon appear salmon pink instead of gray.

According to the Court's decision, the plaintiffs "allege that fish farmers feed farmed salmon the chemicals canthaxanthin and astaxanthin to obtain a color of flesh resembling that of wild salmon. They allege that the flesh of farmed salmon would appear grayish without the chemical additives and that consumers believe that the color of salmon is an indication of its origin, quality, freshness, flavor, and other characteristics."  At the end of the opinion, the Court observes that if that allegation is true, then it would violate the Federal Food Drug and Cosmetic Act.

But the Court didn't decide that.  The Court instead ruled that private citizens can't bring these claims.  When a private citizen can take over the job of the government, that person is called a "private attorney general."  In order to become a "private attorney general," however, the statute that the private citizen wants to enforce has to include a section that allows private citizens to take over for the government.

The Court ruled that the FFDCA does not contain such a section, and it barred these non-profit plaintiffs from pursuing the lawsuit any further.  If there's going to be any enforcement of this statute regarding the allegations cited above, then it's going to be done by either California Attorney General Bill Lockyer or United States Attorney General Albert Gonzales.

The battle over farm-fed salmon is far from clear.  There are allegations that it's bad for you, and allegations that it's not. 

Posted by J. Craig Williams on Monday, September 04, 2006 at 13:27 Comments (0)


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