Decoding Seafood Industry Terminology

How the fish we eat gets from the ocean to our plate is an extremely consequential story. The answer affects a myriad of things from our own health to that of our natural resources for generations to come. That story is often convoluted, or even untraceable, to the average American consumer for a reason. Our goal is to empower the consumer with some basic tools of understanding, so they know what story they're buying--and biting--into.


Just means it has not been frozen—which does not mean indicate good quality. The fish could be 10-15 days out of water and be considered "fresh."


Does not dictate quality, but preserves quality when done immediately and properly. (Sushi grade fish is most often frozen.)


Frozen, then thawed out to appear fresh on display.

"Twice frozen":

Frozen, then thawed out for processing (often shipped to China), then frozen a second time (and shipped back). The fish looses moisture and suffers quality loss. This implies that the fish likely made a big journey/footprint across the globe in the process.

"Previously frozen":

Twice frozen.

"Sodium Tripolyphosphate":

Indicates twice frozen. It is an inorganic compound produced on a large scale as a component of many domestic and industrial products, especially detergents. It is used as a preservative--an emulsifier that retains moisture in seafood. Its widespread use is a contributing source of environmental issues such as eutrophication. 

"Product of China":

Most likely twice frozen (for it was shipped frozen, thawed for processing, then refrozen).

"Craft raised":

Aside from indicating that the product is not wild, it is an empty buzz phrase.

"Manager Special":

Soon expiring or hasn't sold, most likely for a not-so-special reason!

"Color Added":

Farmed seafood that has been dyed--without artificial coloring the flesh would be gray.

“Atlantic Salmon”:

Any "Atlantic salmon" stores or restaurants is farmed. Period.

Romantic Sounding Countries Often Means Farmed Salmon:

• Chile is the largest producer of farmed Coho salmon (which do
not exist in nature south of the equator).
• British Columbia exports wild and farmed salmon.

Any salmon coming from the following countries is farmed:
-Eastern Canada
- Chile
- Norway
- Scotland
- Iceland
- Faroe Islands
- Shetland Islands
- New Zealand