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Agriculture Press Release
September 25, 2001
Celebrate Florida seafood’s contributions to economy and good health during National Seafood Month in October
TALLAHASSEE -- Citing Florida’s continuing leadership in providing fresh finfish and shellfish, Florida Agriculture Commissioner Charles H. Bronson is urging consumers to celebrate "National Seafood Month" in October.
"Florida’s history has been uniquely shaped by its many fishing communities and coastal waterways," Bronson said. "I hope everyone will observe this month and take some time to learn about Florida’s seafood and aquaculture industry and its contributions to all of us."
With restaurant and retail sales of about $1 billion annually and a dockside value of $218 million, Florida ranks in the top 10 states. Florida is also home to more seafood processing plants than any other state.
"The hard work and dedication of Florida’s fisherman, farmers and processors has made our state a leader in the industry," Bronson said. "The tremendous impact the seafood industry has on the state’s economy is obvious."
According to the National Fisheries Institute (NFI), American consumers spend almost $50 billion each year on a wide variety of fish and shellfish products. This total includes about $32 billion purchased in food service establishments, and about $17 billion in retail stores. The thousands of firms that produce, process and distribute the fish and shellfish are located throughout the United States, and contribute more than $25 billion to the U.S. gross national product.
In addition to contributing greatly to the state’s economy, Florida seafood also provides health benefits for people of all ages. Each American eats about 14.9 pounds of seafood per year. Fish are cited as low in fat, easily digestible, and a good source of protein by scientific reports and government guides alike. The American Dietetic Association recommends eating two to three meals with seafood per week.
Numerous scientific studies cite the benefits to consumers of including seafood in their diets. Florida seafood is rich in omega-3, which lowers the risk of heart disease, eases the pain of arthritis, and is an excellent source of protein, vitamins and minerals. Regular consumption of omega-3 has also been linked to proper development of brain, nervous tissue and eyes of the fetus during pregnancy.
The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services offers consumers a series of brochures featuring various species of Florida finfish and shellfish. These colorful, award-winning brochures include delicious recipes, nutritional facts and handling information.
To help ensure the safety of seafood throughout the food chain, the Department has published a guide for restaurants and retailers. "Maintaining Seafood Quality: Fish and Seafood Handling Guide" provides information on the handling, disinfecting and storage of seafood products. Also included are quality evaluation procedures for both fresh and frozen products, and seafood safety facts.
The Department has been actively involved in promoting the Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) protocol. Created in 1995, HACCP is a modern, pro-active food safety system designed to minimize the safety hazards associated with seafood consumption. The HACCP system helps reduce hazards involved in processing, storing and shipping seafood products, both domestic and foreign.
For more information about Florida seafood and aquaculture, or to obtain seafood species recipe brochures, send a stamped, self-addressed envelope to: Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Bureau of Seafood and Aquaculture, 2051 East Dirac Drive, Tallahassee, FL 32310-3760; telephone (850) 488-0163, email , or visit www.fl-seafood.com on the Internet.
In addition, the NFI provides fact sheets detailing the regulation of various species, including environmental issues, on the web at www.nfi.org or www.aboutseafood.com.