March 4, 2009 Washington, DC – In a letter to the Better Seafood Bureau’s (BSB) secretary, Lisa Weddig, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) makes the agency’s policy on the use of the name white roughy for basa fish clear, calling it “misleading to the consumer.”
The name white roughy has begun to crop up on restaurant menus and at fish counters nationwide but especially in California.
“It is our position and clearly the FDA’s as well, that calling basa, white roughy is not merely part of the local vernacular but rather a concerted attempt to suggest that the fish is somehow related to the more expensive roughies, like orange roughy,” said Weddig.
The FDA letter notes that orange roughy “commands a higher value in the marketplace” and that the hybrid term white roughy is simply “not an acceptable market name.”
“There is a difference between genuine confusion and marketing designed to confuse,” said Weddig. “We want to educate people who may have a legitimate misunderstanding about what to call a certain fish and weed out those who are perpetrating a fraud.”
In recent weeks the FDA has stepped up its focus on economic integrity in the seafood industry. The agency updated its list of acceptable seafood names, rereleased its Guidance to Industry as a reminder of existing FDA policy regarding net weight fraud and separately heard testimony from Weddig on the topic before its science board.
The Better Seafood Bureau (BSB) was established by the National Fisheries Institute to provide a mechanism for industry’s partners in the supply chain – restaurants, retail operations, producers and processors - to report suppliers suspected of committing economic fraud.