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U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Inspections, Compliance, Enforcement, and Criminal Investigations

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CPG Sec. 540.285 Crabmeat Products - Labeling; Crabmeat Products with Added Fish or Other Seafood Ingredients - Labeling

 

BACKGROUND:

Under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act no standards of identity have been established for "deviled crabs," "crab cakes," or similar products whose names include the word "crab."

We have consistently expressed the opinion that crabmeat should be the only seafood ingredient in any food product identified by a name such as "deviled crab," "crab cakes," "crabmeat cocktail" or other names which mention only the crab ingredient.

However, we recognize that there are many foods in which crabmeat is customarily combined with other seafood ingredients. Names of these products often include terms such as "cakes," "patties," "cocktail," or "newburg." We have not objected to these combinations provided the name identified all of the seafood ingredients as, for example, "crab and cod cakes," or "flounder and crab newburg." Neither have we objected to generic descriptive terms such as "seafood cocktail," with the specific seafood ingredients named in descending order of predominance in the list of ingredients.

On the other hand, until 1968, we consistently expressed the opinion that the article known as "deviled crab" by its very nature purported to be made with crabmeat as the sole seafood ingredient. We therefore considered a food product simulating "deviled crab" to be adulterated if fish was combined with the crabmeat, even if the name of the fish ingredient was included in the designation *(list of ingredients).*

Following contemplated seizure actions and conferences with manufacturers of "deviled crab" products in 1968, we reconsidered this matter, and in early 1969 advised interested State officials and packers as follows:

"We have reconsidered the status under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act of such products, both from the standpoint of composition and of labeling. We now believe that fish flakes or other noncrab seafoods may be used with crab in deviled, cakes, cocktails, and other products, provided the presence of such ingredients is properly revealed as part of the name of the product, and of course, in the ingredient statement. For example, we would not object to the use of cod or pollock in deviled or cake items, where the crabmeat ingredient predominates over the fish ingredient, if the article is labeled as 'Deviled Crabs with (or 'and') Fish Flakes' or 'Crab and Fish cakes' and the specific fish, cod or pollock, is named in the ingredient statement. Where the fish ingredient predominates, it, of course, should appear before the crab in the name."

We have considered the possibility of establishing standards of identity for these "crab" products, but lack the data needed to establish these at present. Until standards are established or further announcement is made, our policy will be as follows:

POLICY:

An article labeled unqualifiedly as "deviled crabs," "crab cakes," "crab burgers," or with other names that mention only the crab ingredient is considered misbranded under section 403(a) and adulterated under 402(b) if it contains any seafood other than crabmeat, even though the other seafood may be named in the ingredient statement.

Fish flakes or other non-crab seafoods may be used with crabmeat in deviled, cakes, cocktails, and other products, provided the presence of such non-crab ingredients is properly revealed as part of the name of the product, and of course, by its common or usual name in the ingredient statement. For example, there would be no objection to the use of cod or pollock in deviled or cake items, in a product labeled as "deviled crabs with (or 'and') fish flakes," provided the crabmeat ingredient predominates over the fish ingredient, and the specific fish, cod or pollock, is named in the ingredient statement. Where the fish ingredient predominates, it should appear before the word "crab" in the name. There would be no objection to the specific name of the fish in the name of the article.

Issued: 12/3/73
Revised: 10/1/80