Appropriate naming is a first, but crucial step of properly identifying fish and other types of seafood. Often one type of seafood might have several vernacular names or two or more species from the different regions might be called the same name. These types of inconsistencies only add to consumer’s confusion. To minimize these discrepancies the U.S. Food and DrugAdministration (FDA) and the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) have compiled existing acceptable market names for imported and domestically available seafood. For example, even though basa (Pangasius bocourti) is a type of catfish imported from Vietnam, it is illegal in the U.S. to label this fish as “catfish” to avoid confusion with the domestically produced Ictaluridcatfish.
The FDA Guide to Acceptable Market Names for Food Fish Sold in Interstate Commerce (aka “The Fish List”)provides an authoritative source of common names to establish order in the marketplace and reduce consumer confusion. The lists reflects what the FDA considers the most appropriate market names for the identification and labeling of seafood, and is the agency’s primary guidance for naming seafood sold in the United States. According to the FDA,An acceptable market name is a name that FDA recognizes as a suitable "statement of identity" in the labeling of a species. An acceptable market name fairly represents the identity of the species to U.S. consumers because it is not confusingly similar to the name of another species and because it is not otherwise misleading. An acceptable market name may be: (1) a "common or usual name" established by either a history of common usage in the U.S. or by regulation; (2) the "scientific common name"; or (3) more rarely, a name specifically coined as the market name for a species, e.g., "basa" is the market name coined for Pangasius bocourti).
Learning more about acceptable market names is an important first step for consumers to protect themselves against economic fraud. Below is a screen shot of the Seafood List. Click on the image to go and review the site.
· Guidance for Industry: The Seafood List - FDA's Guide to Acceptable Market Names for Seafood Sold in Interstate Commerce
|Here is what the front page of the FDA Seafood List looks like. Notice it provides a description of what the different symbols mean.|
|Here is an example for what comes up when you search for "grouper." There are close to 60 species than can legally be labeled as grouper in the market place.|