Kentucky Tuna: A Bad Idea That’s Against the Law

Plenty of people have been having a laugh or two over the news that researchers from Kentucky State University want to rename Asian Carp, changing it to “Kentucky Tuna.” Even Stephen Colbert from the Colbert Report couldn’t resist taking a shot at the idea.

While we appreciate that the folks at Kentucky State are trying to devise strategies to utilize an invasive species that’s causing problems in many of the state’s lakes and streams, there’s another problem that they need to be reminded of: their “Kentucky Tuna” plan is illegal. What’s worse, they’ve already been told once before that’s the case.

Back in April, the Better Seafood Board sent a letter to Dr. Sid Dasgupta at Kentucky State informing him that “calling a fish that is not classified as tuna by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the scientific community is misleading to consumers and violates the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act” as well as a number of individual state food laws.

In particular, according to FDA guidelines, Tuna is reserved for fish in the genus Thunnus and some related fish in the Scombridae family. This naming convention is outlined in FDAs standard of identity for canned tuna found at 21 CFR 161.190.

FDA maintains an on-line list of acceptable market names for seafood species sold in the United States. When FDA published the revised list last year, it also developed guidance on generating market names for new species to ensure the product is not identified by a name that would mislead consumers. Misleading market names for fish can be deemed to be misbranded by the agency.