SIA calls for truth in labeling of alternative protein products
Seafood Industry Australia (SIA) said it is advocating for truth in labeling of seafood products as it lauded an Australian senate inquiry into the labeling of alternative protein products.
SIA CEO Veronica Papacosta said the inquiry should encourage the definition of seafood to be protected, and that the term should be “only applied to true, aquatic seafood species.”
“Misleading origin statements and the subsequent mislabeling of synthetic or plant-based products as actual animal-based protein generates confusion amongst customers and consumers, and undermines the Australian seafood industry, along with the dedication and commitment of fishing families and businesses alike,” Papacosta said. “We firmly believe the sale of products marketed as ‘seafood’ or associated subspecies which are in actual fact synthetic or plant-based, threatens the sustainability and commercial viability of not just our businesses, but of the entire animal-based protein sector. “
Papacosta said while more plant-based products are being sold in markets, there has also been an increase in mislabeling of alternative protein products.
"We’re also concerned consumers could be misled by packaging and labeling that closely resembles established seafood products in the market, like prawns or canned seafood. There are legitimate concerns for consumers with allergies to soy proteins, who seek out seafood only to mistakenly purchase a product that contains something completely different," she said.
Papacosta said the nutritional value of seafood products compares well to alternative proteins, which she said are highly processed products.
Papacosta said while the industry welcomes increased consumer competition, it has to be “done in a fair, honest, and balanced regulatory environment.”
There are implications to the labeling of plant-based products as “seafood,’ which runs counter the aim of traceability, especially seafood traceability, Papacosta said.
“Truth in labeling is a key issue for the Australian seafood industry, and one that Seafood Industry Australia will continue to advocate for,” she said.
Instead of co-opting the term seafood, plant-based products should have a category of their own, she said.
“We respect people’s rights to make choices about what they eat. If you’d rather tofu than tuna, soy than salmon, or potatoes over prawns, then go for it, but don’t tell people they’re eating seafood,” Papacosta said.
Photo courtesy of Seafood Industry Australia