Is Alligator Considered Seafood? (It’s Complicated)

Alligators are considered “specialty meat” due to the provision of a specialty food license. However, Under New Orleans’ Archbishop Gregory M Aymond’s declaration, American Catholics believe alligators to be seafood.

Schools of thought are divided as the Catholic Churches have declared Alligators as seafood but legally, seafood distributors require a specialty food license for the distribution which is why it is also called “specialty meat”.

So do alligators now fall under seafood because of their cold-blooded fish-like anatomy or do they fall under the category of meat because of the special license required to sell or buy the meat?

In this article, we will look at the claims of both these thought systems and try to understand which one fits best with our judgment.

Let us dive deeper into this topic to discuss both the opinions and what type of food is an alligator or if it is as healthy as it is claimed to be. Read more about it below.

Are Alligators A Member Of The Seafood Group?

Is Alligator Considered A Sea Food

According to the Catholic Churches, alligators are now officially sanctioned as a member of the seafood group following a letter written to Archibishop Aymond on the topic. 

Though there are two different schools of thought on this topic.

Catholic churches have believed alligators to be a type of seafood since 2010, which makes up for the obligatory days of abstinence on Fridays during lent. 

According to NPR, in a reply to a letter, Archbishop Aymond responded that alligators are a family of fish as God has created the magnificent creature that lives in water.

And people with Catholic beliefs have strongly tried to justify this statement by putting forth much common scientific evidence.

Their biology has few similarities with that of a fish, but no one can oversee the glaring absence of gills and position of eyes, ears, and nose, and short but strong legs.

Many netizens online have repeatedly justified this answer by how their anatomy matches more with the definition of a cold-blooded fish rather than meat acquired from poultry.

Another section claims that alligators do not technically live in the water and thus can not be considered seafood. They are semi-aquatic animals that do not live in the sea and technically, seafood comes from water.

Legally, seafood distributors are not permitted to distribute alligator meat. They require a specialty food license for the distribution which is why it is also called “specialty meat”.

Federal laws clearly state that alligators are considered to be meat since they are reptiles and specialty meat laws are in place for the distribution of alligator meat.

Thus, the question of whether alligators are members of the seafood group can be better answered by deciding what one prioritizes first: their religion or the laws backed by science. 

What Type Of Food Is The Alligator?

Alligator is meat since it is a reptile and does not live in water and seafood essentially comes from water.

Most of the seafood comes from animals that live inside the water, whether they’re non-toxic or toxic. Thus, seafood is an edible aquatic animal, but it does not include mammals.

An alligator is a special case of a semi-aquatic animal that spends most of its time in the water, however, does not live there. 

Upon some research, it was confirmed that an alligator can spend about 15 to 20 minutes in the water under normal circumstances. Under extreme laboratory conditions, an hour is the maximum time spent inside the water.

This is because alligators belong to the class of reptilia. Features of it being the position of eyes, ears, and nostrils, short muscular legs, body covered in thick and bony scales, and a strong snout help alligators to survive in the wild.

Alligators can not be in the same category as fishes because of huge contrasting differences in the structure and anatomy of their bodies. 

The biggest of them is the non-existence of gills in the alligators. 

Fishes have gills to breathe underwater, however, alligators have lungs. Their nostrils are positioned in such a way on top of their heads that it helps them breathe when they’re on the surface of the water.

Is Alligator Meat Healthy?

Yes, alligator meat is very healthy if cooked properly.

During Ming Dynasty, alligator meat was considered a delicacy due to its numerous health benefits

Alligator meat is high in dietary fiber and is a good source of omega-3 fatty acids. It also contains phosphorus, potassium, vitamin B12, niacin, and monounsaturated fatty acids. 

100 grams of alligator meat consists of more than 46 grams of protein, about 5 grams of fat, and almost no carbohydrates. It is a perfect meat substitute for beef, pork, or chicken.

Because of alligators’ lean muscle tissue, the protein content is twice as much as beef or meat from any other domesticated animal.

Can People Who Are Allergic To Fish Eat Alligators?

You should avoid consuming alligator meat if you’re allergic to fish or any other seafood.

Patients with fish allergies are cautioned against eating alligator meat unless their medical providers have confirmed their tolerance.

Though a high source of protein, alligator meat is as reactive as fish if you are allergic to fish.

However, in a recent case of alligator meat allergy, an anaphylactic reaction was triggered in a child who was also allergic to chicken. This might be because of the cross-reactivity of alpha parvalbumin in both animals.

So, it is strongly recommended to check with your medical service providers before eating alligator meat.

Final Remarks

In this article, we tried to understand that the schools of thought are divided over alligators being considered seafood but legally, alligators are bought and sold as specialty meat.

Here is a quick recap of what we discussed so far:

The anatomy and structure are similar and different to that of a fish and perhaps, this is why they’re classified under reptilia. Alligator meat requires a specialty meat license to be harvested and distributed under the law.