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PUBLISHED: 4:15 PM on Wednesday, August 15, 2007
Gov. Palin possibly to promote Alaskan seafood in national publicity tour
Gov. Sarah Palin could soon be "poster-gov" of Alaska seafood on national TV.

The Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute is negotiating with the Food Network to feature Palin with Alton Brown, a sort of Bill Nye the Science Guy of cooking. A major goal of the match up is to help clear up confusions about seafood in the marketplace.


  Laine Welch
Their message will be simple: if it comes from Alaska, it is good for you.

"When people go into a store they see seafood labeled wild... sustainable ... organic ... ocean raised farmed fish - it's really a jumble of phrases out there. She can help set the record straight," said ASMI director Ray Riutta.

Alton Brown hosts two programs on the Food Network - 'Good Eats' and "Feasting on Asphalt.'

Brown and the Governor will feature advice on purchasing Alaska seafood and cooking tips.

Palin might also appear with the Network's wildly popular Rachael Ray and Bobby Flay, and be part of a media tour that includes Good Morning America, Today and Oprah.

Riutta said Gov. Palin's background as a commercial salmon fisherman makes her "a natural" to promote Alaska seafood.

She also represents an important population ASMI is trying to reach - women professionals in their 30s and 40s.

A nation-wide Consumers Report survey revealed that 62 percent of Americans want to know where their foods come from.

Sensational headlines about contaminated and tainted foods have people scrutinizing labels like never before.

Riutta said Alaska as "the source" offers strong reassurance of food safety.

"We've done testing on Alaska as a brand, at least domestically, and the numbers are overwhelming in favor of the Alaska seafood brand. We're sure that carries overseas as well," Riutta said.

The details of Gov. Palin's TV appearances are still being worked out. "We're defining the how's and the when's. The Governor is always looking for opportunities to speak out about Alaska seafood," said state fisheries policy advisor, Cora Crome.

ASMI has a $1.6 million budget for fall and winter TV on the Food Network and other outlets.

COOL comments

Seafood origins are not as straightforward when it comes to cans. For the past two years, federal laws have required Country of Origin Labels on most seafood items at U.S. retail counters.

The COOL labels must also identify if the fish or shellfish is wild or farmed.

But when the interim law went into effect two years ago, the Alaska industry was angered when the Feds pulled a last minute switch and put canned, pouched and smoked seafood in the 'processed foods' category. That made those products ineligible for coverage under COOL.

"We feel this is something that consumers want to know. There has been overwhelming public comment by Alaska fishermen, but the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture has not responded to those comments at this time," said Mark Vinsel, director of United Fishermen of Alaska.

"We feel there is tremendous interest by the public in having country of origin labels cover canned fish."

The bulk of Alaska's annual salmon catch still goes into cans. Consumers have another chance to comment on the final COOL rule through Aug. 20. Send to cool@usda.gov.

The West Coast's largest commercial fishermen's organization has joined forces with the nation's farmers to protect the common interests of America's food producers.

It includes the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen's Association, which represents 14 different fishing groups.

The alliance comes at a time when the U.S. Farm Bill is being revised by Congress.


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