Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services

Seafood Menu Item Misrepresentation and Product Substitution

Florida law prohibits misrepresentation or undisclosed substitution of food. Particular attention should be focused on menu descriptions and "blackboard" or "specials" items. Menus or any other manner used to promote or advertise items for sale must be accurate and truthful.

Seafood is a category that should be handled with extreme diligence.

Species of seafood cannot be substituted for one another, and must be accurately and truthfully promoted.

Seafood must be sold using its correct species name as specified by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's HACCP Guide.

Failure to accurately and truthfully identify food items for sale, such as undisclosed substitution of one type of fish for another, is a violation of Florida law.

Violators are subject to penalties of up to $1,000 per occurrence, and license suspension or revocation.

Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR) food sanitation and safety inspectors actively enforce the following provisions of Florida law that relate to seafood:

Chapter 509.292, F.S. Misrepresenting food or food product; penalty,

(1) An operator may not knowingly and willfully misrepresent the identity of any food or food product to any of the patrons of such establishment. The identity of food or a food product is misrepresented if:

(a) The description of the food or food product is false or misleading in any particular;

(b) The food or food product is served, sold, or distributed under the name of another food or food product; or

(c) The food or food product purports to be or is represented as a food or food product that does not conform to a definition of identity and standard of quality if such definition of identity and standard of quality has been established by custom and usage.

(2) (Unrelated to seafood)

(3) Any person who violates any provision of this section is guilty of a misdemeanor of the second degree, punishable as provided in Section 775.082(4) or Section 775.083(1)(e).

The penalty for conviction of a misdemeanor of the second degree is a term of imprisonment not exceeding 60 days, and/or a fine of $500. For enforcement information contact DBPR at (850) 487-1395.