(August 13, 2010 - SeafoodSource.com)—The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services is rolling out a “Florida Gulf Safe” logo this month, soon after a survey it conducted showed that consumers are concerned about buying seafood from the Gulf of Mexico and Florida.
The July survey of 1,000 Florida consumers found that one in five “occasional” seafood eaters has stopped purchasing fish, primarily in restaurants, since the Gulf oil spill in late April. In addition, 15.2 percent of consumers said they felt “negative” about the safety of seafood in Florida.
Around 17 percent of those surveyed also said they felt “negative” about the safety of seafood from the Gulf, and a larger group, 24.9 percent, said they will remain negative about Gulf seafood safety over the next 90 days.
“People are skeptical, in general. They are taking a wait-and-see approach, and we keep telling them everything we know,” said Martin May, a Florida Department of Agriculture spokesperson.
However, consumers who are worried about the safety of Florida seafood said they said they might feel more positive if they were assured that the product is safe. In fact, 67.5 percent of Florida consumers said they would feel “positive” about purchasing fresh seafood that is clearly labeled as “Florida Gulf Safe.”
As a result, the agency is now rolling out Florida Gulf Safe stickered logos to restaurants, retailers and seafood wholesalers. Some restaurants have already put the logo on menu inserts, and wholesalers can place the logo on their packages.
“This is not a certification program,” said May. “It means that, from everything we know, it is safe.”
The rollout began earlier this month and is ramping up slowly as the department waits for trademark approval on the logo. Still, more than 116,000 Florida Gulf Safe stickered logos have been distributed to the industry.
In addition to the logo, the department is airing 60-second TV spots, titled “We’re in Business, But We Need You,” in northwest Florida, southern Alabama, southern Mississippi and other areas. The ads assure consumers that Florida seafood is safe to eat. Radio, newspaper and Internet ads are also running in select markets.