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Milam, Riley & Albano Bill Cracking Down on Counterfeit 'Jersey Fresh' Products Released from Committee
(TRENTON) - Legislation Assembly Democrats Matthew W. Milam, Celeste M. Riley and Nelson T. Albano sponsored to put some serious teeth into the laws governing the use of the "Jersey Fresh" brand, in an effort to cull counterfeit food products claiming to have New Jersey ingredients, was released Monday by an Assembly committee.
"The 'Jersey Fresh' label conveys an expectation of a certain level of taste and quality that consumers have come to trust," said Milam (D-Atlantic/Cape May/Cumberland). "When consumers buy counterfeit products with that label, it doesn't just impact their experience, it damages the entire reputation of the 'Jersey Fresh' brand, which is something that our farmers and our retailers simply can't afford."
"While there are already laws on the books that prohibit trying to pass off produce, vegetables and meats and fish as 'Jersey Fresh,' we don't really have a system in place to remove the goods once they've made it to store shelves," said Riley (D-Cumberland/Gloucester/Salem). "Our legislation would put that system in place; leaving counterfeit 'Jersey Fresh' products in stores benefits no one."
"When counterfeit 'Jersey Fresh' products are found, we need to get them off the market as quickly as possible," said Albano (D-Atlantic/Cape May/Cumberland). "Nabisco or Kraft wouldn't tolerate counterfeiters trying to pass knock-off Oreos or Mac and Cheese as the real thing on store shelves and neither should the farmers, butchers and fishermen behind the 'Jersey Fresh' label."
Current law already prohibits and penalizes the use of the state outline on agricultural products not produced in New Jersey.
The Milam/Riley/Albano bill (A-2871) would supplement existing law to include specific prohibitions against using the "Jersey Fresh" logos and branding on agricultural products not produced in state and would provide for the seizure and forfeiture of such counterfeit products.
Specifically, the bill would prohibit advertising and packaging from implying in any way that any produce, seafood, dairy or other agricultural product is "Jersey Fresh," unless:
· The product complies with all relevant state Department of Agriculture grading standards for freshness for the use of such branding; and
· The individual has first obtained a license and registration number from the department authorizing the use of such branding in association with their particular product.
Under the bill, when a counterfeit "Jersey Fresh" product is discovered, a judge would be authorized to order the seizure of any such product, and have it and the individuals or entities producing the product appear in court. Upon a judge's determination that the product in question is counterfeit or otherwise misusing the "Jersey Fresh" brand, the product would be forfeited through destruction, donation or lawful sale of the product.
The bill was released by the Assembly Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee chaired by Albano.
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