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NFI exec: 'Bacon cannot be veggie and shrimp cannot be vegan'

Alternative seafood products should be bound by the same labeling requirements as genuine seafood products, National Fisheries Institute President John Connelly tells the Wall Street Journal.

Companies producing imitation seafood products should be bound by the same labeling requirements as those producing genuine seafood products, National Fisheries Institute (NFI) President John Connelly said in a letter published by the Wall Street Journal.

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While the US seafood industry says it is not opposed to new products, it is urging "fairness and consistency" in relation to labeling requirements.

"Bacon cannot be 'veggie' and shrimp cannot be 'vegan.'” These are just facts at, literally, the cellular level," Connelly wrote. "They are not open to interpretation and they are certainly not constitutionally protected rhetoric. Support for labeling vegetable alternatives as meat or fish, under the guise of First Amendment championship, ignores the fact that limits, even on speech, exist for a reason."

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NFI cites Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act labeling section and the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) list of acceptable market names for fish which contains more than 5,000 words limiting what seafood can be called.

"A vegetarian “lobstah” is not the crustacean of the north we so enjoy on summer nights, no matter how clever the marketing pitch, and producers should follow the same rules as seafood companies," Connelly wrote. "While we may agree that there can be excess regulation, seafood companies must follow those rules."

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The FDA is expected to hold a meeting on July 12 to explore the safety of the technology and consider labeling requirements to help consumers identify the new meat alternatives.

This comes as the FDA prepares to take some initial steps toward regulating the fledgling industry meat-substitute industry.

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