What causes the price differences on scallops and what does it mean when the label says “25% Water Added Scallop Product?”
The pack standards on frozen scallops have declined in recent years due to attempts by the federal government to regulate the scallop industry. Scallop packers are often cited for a questionable manufacturing practice called “soaking”.
The fresh product is soaked in water containing STPP prior to freezing. STPP stands for Sodium Tri-Poly Phosphate and causes the scallops to increase their moisture content. The seafood industry differs from the meat and poultry industry in the area of inspection.
The meat and poultry industry are regulated by the USDA, the seafood industry is self-regulated with no federally mandated inspection program. In their attempt to regulate the scallop industry the government sanctioned the wide-spread “soaking” process by requiring processors label the frozen scallops “Scallop Product 25% Water Added”.
Restaurant operators and sales people alike are confused by the new label but lured by the lower price. Here is an easy way to compare the value and explain:
Each one percent of water will lower the value 8 cents per pound, about two bucks on a ten pound pack. To demonstrate how much water 25% amounts to, take a 10 pound “dry pack” and a 10 pound “25% Water Added” and put them side by side. Next, go to the sink and fill FIVE 8 ounce glasses of water (2 ˝ pounds, 25%) and set them next to the dry pack. The question to ask: “Do you prefer your scallops with water or without water?”