The name "red snapper" has been preempted by many years of consistent consumer usage as meaning only the fish, Lutjanus campechanus. Because of the high esteem in which this fish is held by consumers, and the relatively limited catch, there have been numerous attempts to substitute other, less expensive fishes for this species. Substituted less desirable species have included members of the family Lutjanidae, groupers, a number of West Coast rockfishes of the genus Sebastes, and other species. The West Coast rockfishes have, until relatively recently, been distributed mostly locally, and thus have been beyond the reach of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act. Some of the States on the Pacific Coast have officially sanctioned "red snapper" as an alternative name for such members of the Sebastes genus, although these fishes are quite different in appearance, flavor, and texture, and are generally regarded by consumers familiar with Lutjanus campechanus as inferior.
The labeling or sale of any fish other than Lutjanus campechanus as "red snapper" constitutes a misbranding in violation of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act.