August 4, 2020


'Cell-based' label for seafood ok after all, US study finds


A Rutgers study in the United States published in the Journal of Food Science recommends that companies seeking to commercialise seafood products made from the cells of fish or shellfish should use the term 'cell-based' on product labels, Food Processing reported.

Under US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulations, a "common or usual name" must distinguish a new product type from those with which consumers are familiar with. In the case of cell-based seafood, this means selecting a name that highlights to consumers that the product is different from wild-caught and farm-raised seafood.

The study by William Hallman, a professor at the School of Environmental and Biological Sciences at Rutgers University, studiednames that should be used on labels for seafood products to best meet both regulatory and consumer acceptance criteria.

"The participants were able to tell that 'cell-based seafood' products were different from 'wild-caught' and 'farm-raised' products, but viewed them as equally nutritious and were just as interested in tasting and purchasing them," Hallman said.

Producing onlyfish parts that people eat rather than catching or raising them whole, cell-based seafood products are expected to offer a healthy, sustainable alternative that will look, cook and taste the same as conventional seafood. Cell-based seafood are also said to be just as nutritious as farmed and wild-caught seafood, while being free of environmental contaminants such as mercury and microplastics.

In the study, 3,186 consumers were surveyed onone of seven potential names as well as 'wild-caught' and 'farm-raised', shown on images of realistic packages of salmon, tuna or shrimp. The names tested were:cell-based seafood, cell-cultured seafood, cultivated seafood, and cultured seafood.

The study stipulated that the name must be seen by consumers as an appropriate term to identify the product, and that it not denigratecell-based or conventional products, excluding terms such as 'lab-grown', 'synthetic', 'slaughter-free' and 'cruelty-free'.

Interestingly, the study revealed that terms with the word 'cell', including 'cell-based' and 'cell-cultured' were best, helping customers understand that the products were neither farm-raised nor wild-caught.

However, while products labelled 'cell-based' were seen as equally desirable as 'wild-caught' and 'farm-raised' products, 'cell-cultured' were not, suggesting that "cell-based seafood" is the better name to appear on products.

The study can be read in full at: