One label for surimi

After a year-long campaign by surimi makers, FDA will allow them to use a single label to describe the fish that may or may not be in surimi. Surimi (deboned fish washed with water) is often found in cold seafood salad and is used to make imitation crab, scallops and lobster.

The traditional labeling requirement that ingredients be listed in the order of weight was impractical for surimi because the contents could change daily, according to manufacturers. They said it cost them up to $3.2 million annually to have enough labels to meet the requirements. Manufacturers got their wish. Labels will be permitted to use and/or statements such as "contains one or more of the following: pollock, cod, and/or Pacific whiting." However, surimi cannot be called "surimi" on the label. It must be called "fish protein" because the processing renders it unrecognizable as fish flesh. In the past decade, sales of surimi products have climbed from 50 million lb/yr to an estimated 160 million lb. NFPA asked if the "and/or" labeling could be applied to other processed fish products, like fish sticks, but so far FDA has not agreed to the change.

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