NFI, GAPP Applaud FDA's Surimi Identity Statement Change

Washington, D.C. -The National Fisheries Institute (NFI) here and the Genuine Alaska Pollock Producers (GAPP) are applauding the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) recently approved labeling change n the statement of identity for surimi seafood to remove the word "imitation" from packaging and instead use "_______ flavored seafood, made with surimi, a fully cooked fish protein."

The move follows more than 10 years of effort through two comprehensive consumer studies and extensive research for crab- and lobster-flavored surimi products, according to NFI and GAPP, both of which provided FDA with information necessary to make the decision regarding the name change.

"Our research revealed that the use of the word 'imitation' on the product label negatively affects perceptions of the product, thereby reducing consumer purchasing," said NFI technical expert Bob Collette. "The new statement of identity for surimi seafood better informs consumers about surimi and should encourage more people to eat this nutritious protein, low in calories, fat and cholesterol and easy to prepare at home."

The studies were designed to determine whether the names enabled consumers to understand the basic nature of the product. "We are greatly energized that the FDA has taken note of more consumer-friendly labeling for seafood products made with surimi fish protein," said GAPP's president Rick Muir. "This is a benefit to Alaska Pollock producers whose product will now be more accurately identified in the grocery aisles."

Surimi seafood products are sold in many forms, including packages of crab- and lobster-flavored surimi sold in leg and flake styles to be used by consumers and the restaurant industry in seafood salads and many other recipes. Currently, the wholesale value of the domestic surimi industry is about $300 million. The United States produces about 185 million pounds of finished surimi products, purchased by approximately 10 percent of U.S. households.