The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) receives many inquiries concerning appropriate common or usual names for use in marketing and labeling seafood products in interstate commerce. In recent years there has been an increase in seafood consumption in the United States, along with increased importation of unfamiliar seafood and use of different names for the same seafood in different regions of the country. These developments led FDA and the National Marine Fisheries Service to recognize the need for a single source of recommended or required market names for seafood sold in interstate commerce in the United States.
In 1988, FDA published the FDA Guide to Acceptable Market Names for Food Fish Sold in Interstate Commerce ("The Fish List") to provide a source of names that would provide order in the marketplace and reduce confusion among consumers. Although this list established some uniformity in the identification of fish species found in the marketplace, it did not include invertebrate mollusks and crustaceans.
In 1993, FDA established an updated list of seafood commonly sold in the U.S. Entitled The Seafood List, this list now includes invertebrate species (mollusks and crustaceans) as well as vertebrate species (finfish). It is extensive, although some species are not included.
The Seafood List is divided into two parts: Part I - Vertebrate, and Part II - Invertebrate. Each part is divided into two sections. Section I lists the species alphabetically by market name, followed by the common, scientific, and vernacular names. Section II lists the species alphabetically by the scientific names, followed by the market names. FDA has placed these two sections in The Seafood List to aid interested persons in locating particular species, either by the market name or by the scientific name.
The listed "market" names should be used to label seafood products that enter interstate commerce in the U.S.The listed market name of a species is understood by FDA to be the most widely used and recognized common or usual name for the species. This is the name that is generally used by consumers to unambiguously identify a particular seafood and to distinguish it from a similar seafood.
The "common" names given in The Seafood List generally represent the common English translation or representation of the Latin scientific name that is recognized by ichthyologists. FDA advocates the use of the "market" name because these are more widely recognized by consumers. However, the listed "common" names may serve as acceptable substitutes for the "market" names because they are accurate and often similar to the "market" name, and therefore unlikely to mislead consumers.
The "vernacular" names are included in The Seafood List to aid in the identification of species by their "market" or "common" name. Vernacular names are the names often used in limited regions of the country to identify a popular or locally harvested species, and are not names commonly known or meaningful to consumers in other areas. Therefore, in most cases, FDA discourages the use of "vernacular" names for labeling seafood.
The Seafood List reflects the views of FDA concerning the most appropriate common or usual names for the identification and labeling of seafood sold in interstate commerce. This publication represents the agency's primary guidance for naming seafood sold in interstate commerce. The use of a vernacular name on seafood labeling may cause a seafood to be misbranded under the provisions of the FD&C Act. The agency recommends that a manufacturer or distributor who contemplates the use of a name other than the listed "market" or "common" names, first consult with FDA. Such a consultation may prevent expenditure of money and effort for labeling that may mislead consumers and cause the agency to take regulatory action.
Regulatory Action Guidance
Use of names other than those listed as common or usual names in the "market" or "common" columns of The Seafood List, may misbrand the product. Questions regarding seafood nomenclature should be directed to CFSAN/Office of Seafood/Policy Guidance Branch (HFS- 416), either by fax *(301) 436-2601* or phone *(301) 436-2300,* before preparing a case.
See also Sec. 540.475 Snapper - Labeling (CPG 7108.21); for specific guidance on use of the term "red snapper" as a common or usual name. Specific regulations also provide for the common or usual names of certain species, or the species allowed in certain standardized foods: See 21 CFR, Sections 102.46 Pacific whiting; 102.47 Bonito; 102.50 Crabmeat; 102.57 Greenlandturbot; 161.170 Canned Pacific salmon; and 161.190 Canned tuna.
*The Seafood List may be accessed through links from the FDA Internet Home Page at: www.fda.gov. To search The Seafood List, go to: http://www.fda.gov/Food/GuidanceComplianceRegulatoryInformation/GuidanceDocuments/Seafood/ucm113260.htm.*
*Material between asterisks is new or revised.*