Seafood Labeling Fraud

A latest report on seafood by the conservancy group Oceana caught the eye of many fish eaters. It discovered widespread labeling fraud in eating places and supermarkets throughout the U.S., mirroring the outcomes of earlier investigations in East and West Coast cities.

Of greater than 1,200 fish samples from 671 shops in 21 states, one-third had been mislabeled, as revealed by DNA testing. For instance, fish labeled as wild salmon, grouper or Chilean sea bass had been typically one thing else. Most egregious, 113 out of 120 “pink snapper” samples had been one other snapper species or an unrelated fish, like rockfish, tilapia or ocean perch. Assume you’re shopping for lemon sole or halibut? There’s a great likelihood you’re getting flounder. What about that striped bass or cod? It’d actually be porgy.

Grocery shops fared greatest—however even there, one in 5 samples was falsely labeled. Eating places mislabeled 38 p.c of the samples. Most unsettling, sushi bars bought it flawed 74 p.c of the time.

It’s unclear the place the issue originates. “With an more and more advanced and obscure seafood provide chain, it’s troublesome to determine if fraud is happening on the boat, throughout processing, on the retail counter or someplace alongside the way in which,” the report stated. The mislabeling could also be unintended (many fish, like totally different snappers, look alike), however in lots of instances, if not most, it’s seemingly intentional (for monetary achieve).

The hurt is often simply to your pocketbook, if you find yourself paying a premium for a less expensive fish—or to your values, when you suppose you might be shopping for a sustainable fish and get one that’s overfished or in any other case mismanaged. However in some instances, mislabeling will be harmful—for example, if fish labeled as snapper or halibut is definitely tilefish, a high-mercury fish. At sushi eating places, “white tuna” (shiro maguro) is commonly escolar, a snake mackerel. Escolar can have explosive laxative results, which is why it’s banned or has advisories in quite a few nations.

Don’t quit on fish, however do take these steps to reel in solely those you need.

Easy methods to keep away from fish fraud

  • Purchase from a fishmonger or market you belief. Nation of Origin Labeling (COOL), which went into impact just a few years in the past, is meant to determine the supply of the fish on the seafood counter. However slightly than belief the label blindly, a greater guess is to ask quite a lot of questions—reminiscent of the place the fish comes from, whether or not it’s farmed or wild, what fishing strategies had been used, and whether or not it was sustainably sourced.
  • Ask questions when ordering fish at a restaurant. Your server (or the chef) ought to be capable to present such info. Assume twice about ordering “white tuna” sushi.
  • Be cautious if the value appears too low. Cheap “wild” salmon (say, $eight.99 a pound), for instance, is more likely to be farmed Atlantic salmon, particularly within the winter when wild salmon is in restricted provide.
  • If doable, purchase the entire fish, which is much less more likely to be misidentified and thus mislabeled—or at the least ask to see the entire fish earlier than it’s filleted.
  • Help efforts by Oceana to require traceability of seafood from boat to plate, in addition to elevated federal inspections and testing, by writing to the Meals and Drug Administration (FDA).
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