A study published in the Journal of Food Science and also discussed during a SHIFT20 session entitled “First Look at Nomenclature Research for Seafood Made from Fish Cells,” explores the nomenclature surrounding cell-based or cultured meat, poultry, and seafood in the United States.

The online experiment was conducted among 3,186 U.S. adults to test common or usual names using images of realistic packages of three types of seafood that a consumer might encounter in a supermarket. The terms tested were “cell‐based seafood,” “cell‐cultured seafood,” “cultivated seafood,” and “cultured seafood,” and the phrases tested were “produced using cellular aquaculture,” “cultivated from the cells of [name of seafood],” and “grown directly from the cells of [name of seafood].”

The researchers used five criteria for evaluation, including each term’s ability to: enable consumers to distinguish cell‐based seafood from wild and farmed fish, to signal potential allergenicity, be seen by consumers as an appropriate term to identify the product, not disparage either cell‐based or conventional products, and not evoke thoughts, images, or emotions that are inconsistent with the idea that the products are safe, healthy, and nutritious.

The researchers found that “cell‐based seafood” outperformed the other names tested. It enabled consumers to recognize that the products were neither wild caught nor farm raised, signaled potential allergenicity, was seen as an appropriate name for describing the technology/process, and performed well with respect to measures of consumer acceptance, particularly in comparison with conventional products. They concluded that “consistent use of this term by industry, advocates, and regulators would help orient consumers to what is likely to be a transformational food technology.”

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