Seafood Species Substitution and Economic Fraud

Seafood Substitution

Economic Deception or Fraud in the sale of seafood occurs when a less expensive species is substituted for a more expensive-species. For example, the substitution of less expensive snappers (Lutjanus spp.) or rockfish (Sebastes spp.) for more expensive red snapper (Lutjanus campechanus) in interstate commerce constitutes fraud and is prohibited under the Misbranding Section of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act Section 403: MISBRANDED FOOD. (See also, United States Code, Title 21, Chapter 9,  Section 403(b) - Misbranded food: A food shall be deemed to be misbranded if it is offered for sale under the name of another food.

For information on FDA sampling see, FDA DNA Testing at Wholesale Level to Evaluate Proper Labeling of Seafood Species.

FDA's Examples of Substituted Seafood

Products in Column A have been known to be substituted for those in Column B, which in most cases are products that are more expensive. 

Column A

Column B

Various Snappers (Lutjanus spp.)Red Snapper (Lutjanus campechanus)
Rockfish (Sebastes spp.)Red Snapper (Lutjanus campechanus)
YellowtailMahi Mahi
Mako SharkSwordfish
Oreo Dory or John DoryOrange Roughy
Alaska PollockCod
Sea BassHalibut
Arrowtooth Flounder Dover Sole
Black Drum Red Drum (Red Fish; Southern or Gulf)
White Perch Lake or Yellow Perch (Great Lakes)
ZanderLake or Yellow Perch (Great Lakes)
Paddlefish and other Fish RoeCaviar (Sturgeon species)
Sauger Walleye
Pink Salmon Chum Salmon
Skate WingsScallops
Alaskan PollockWalleye
Steelhead TroutSalmon
Imported CrabmeatBlue Crabmeat
Farm Raised SalmonWild Caught Salmon
Top ShellAbalone


Current price information can be obtained at one of the websites listed below: 

  • National Marine Fisheries Service
    Fisheries Statistics and Economics Division
    1315 East-West Highway, Silver Spring, MD 20910
    Phone: (301) 713-2328
  • Commercial Fisheries News
    P O Box 37, Main Street
    Stonington, ME 04681
    Phone: (207) 367-2396 or (800) 989-5253; Fax: (207) 367-2490
  • Seafood Business
    121 Free street, P.O. Box 7437, Portland, ME 04112-7437
    Phone: (207) 842-5500; Fax: (207) 842-5503
  • Urner Barry Publications, Inc.
    P.O. Box 389, Toms River, NJ 08754
    Phone: (732) 240-5330


Page Last Updated: 01/26/2018
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