By this, I mean, are the names of the sizes regulated by an industry or government?

I found this from a seafood wholesaler:

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Yet, my local supermarket has this ad, which appears to be 2 sizes off (not to mention the easily misleading 14 oz size bag)

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My question, is this regulated, or do stores get to chose their own words, and we should simply look at number per pound to make a buying decision?

  • The other way to look at it is that as long as the number per pound is there, you have a great idea of their size, better than you would for most foods!
    – Cascabel
    May 16, 2015 at 6:01
  • Most shrimp around the world are classified in average size counts per Kg based on a 2 Kg bag (4.4 lb) with head on. In the USA it's a 5 lb bag, go figure? But the count is still the same, more or less. e.g. U-10 being up to 20 shrimp per 2 Kg bag
    – TFD
    May 16, 2015 at 7:43

1 Answer 1


This was covered in one of the early episodes of Good Eats, Crustacean Nation. From the transcript of the episode :

As soon as they are off the boat, shrimp tails—called 'green shrimp' in the biz.—are sized or sorted into various weight counts. The higher the number, the smaller the shrimp. Sixties-seventies, for instance, have 60 to 70 tails per pound, which is pretty small. A pound of 26-30s contain at least 26 but not more than 30 tails. Twenty one-twenty fives are larger and 16-20s larger still. The biggest have a U in front of the number signifying that there are less than that number per pound. There are, for instance, 12 or less shrimp in a pound of U-12s.

Now, there are still a lot of shops out there selling on adjectives like jumbo, medium, colossal. Not only are these terms not standardized or controlled, it's tough to even find 2 fishmongers who will agree on them. So, if your market doesn't sell by the weight count feel free to quote Mr. Big who told James Bond in Live and Let Die, "Names is for tombstones, baby." Of course, I guess those are tombstones, aren't they?

  • The start counting at 0.9, so a 26-30 is actually 25.9 to 30? I guess that means on bag in ten could have an oversize shrimp, and only have 25?
    – TFD
    May 16, 2015 at 7:45
  • My favorite nonsense shrimp size term was a restaurant I worked at where the head chef labelled his U-12s "Jurassic" shrimp, as though he'd harvested them from Land of the Lost reruns or something. I didn't work for him for very long.
    – logophobe
    May 18, 2015 at 1:54

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