Something’s fishy about labeling plant products as seafood
Read Guy Simmons’ Letter to the Editor published June 10, 2021 on NJ.com, below:
Seventy percent of seafood consumed is sold in restaurants. Or, at least that was the statistic before the pandemic arrived. It was March 2020 when New Jersey’s seafood sector witnessed a truly terrifying combination of events as both sides of our supply chain and everything in between seized up.
Restaurants closed, processing slowed, distribution ground to a halt and boats remained tied up. If it weren’t for resourcefulness, ingenuity and even federal funding, New Jersey seafood wouldn’t be rebounding the way it is.
But, just as the industry claws its way back as restaurants reopen and producers look to make inroads in retail, there’s a new challenge: plant-based, imitation seafood products which many in our industry believe are mislabeled.
Attention friends, neighbors and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration: there’s no such thing as “vegan clam strips.” And, just because you spell tuna as “toona” doesn’t mean it’s fish.
For years, regulators have looked the other way as almond drinks were mislabeled as “milk” and now they seem not to understand that the sea makes seafood, not mashed up, processed vegetables.
You want to be a vegan? Be my guest. But, in the process, accurately label vegan food. Better yet, how about if the FDA were to follow its own rules and regulations about misbranded products?
Guy Simmons, Senior Vice President, Sea Watch International/TMT Clams, Atlantic City
Editor’s note: Sea Watch International, headquartered in Atlantic City and Maryland, with its subsidiary, TMC Clams, is among the nation’s largest harvesters and processors of domestic clams.