The following letter was sent to IntraFish by Chris Somogyi, a founder of lab-grown seafood company BlueNalu, in response to the opinion column, "Imitation seafood poses a far bigger threat than you think," by Executive Editor John Fiorillo.
I’m a founder of BlueNalu, but am no longer part of that company. I read your recent article. Thank you for writing it.
I wanted to share that I agree with your points. There is too much "re-engineering" of language these days. Words stop having meaning. Truth in labeling is not too much to insist upon.
Some plant-based products that have words such as tuna on the bag are completely misleading. There are plenty of new terms these companies could invent that could be useful in marketing for them, yet honest and clear about the product, for the benefit of consumers.
The cell-based companies at least use things actually from at least one donor fish. The degree to which those cells are modified either via genetic modification (e.g. CRSPR), forced natural selection, and/or chemical morphogens and hormones, will differ from one company to the next. There will almost certainly be a need for various non-seafood additives to achieve the textures, structures, and appearances these companies want.
I also favor clear and honest labeling of these products, when they come out. The industry has been struggling to pick a term, be it "cellular," "cell-based," "clean," or "cultured." None of these really is right yet, in my view, but once they settle on one, it should be clear to consumers that while it originated from fish, it is not the actual fish, and likely lacks the bones, blood, nerves, vessels, connective tissues, and an array of inter and intra-cellular compounds (good and bad) that one would encounter in a full natural fillet.
I think all these products are reasonable to be available, and companies can and should tout their perceived attractions, but I also agree clarity, balance and honest labeling and claims are essential duties companies have towards consumers.