Seafood Has Been Mislabeled


When you go to the grocery store it is easy to spot something you want. Food is the fuel that gives our bodies energy and everyone has their preferences. If food is mislabeled or tainted it can create widespread panic. It appears that there has been an instance of this in seafood specifically.

The New York Times reports that several seafood samples are fake. As in they’re not the kind of fish that they are labeled as. Catfish (in an ironic twist of events) have been catfishing those who want to purchase it. There is a popular MTV show where people pretend to be other people online to get dates. It all turns out to be fake. It seems that life is imitating reality TV.

One in five seafood samples tested worldwide has been completely different than it is labeled. The menus and packaging that determine which fish you should order have been wrong for sometime. Twenty percent of worldwide samples are completely different species than they are labeled. This will prove to be a shocking statistic to seafood lovers. Of course, those who have a good palette should be able to tell the difference right?

The senior campaign director for Oceana helped to author the study on this subject. She told the New York Times that the average consumer has definitely eaten mislabeled fish. She says that the aim of the mislabeling is to try and pull one over on the consumer. The restaurant's say that you’re getting a choice cut for a certain price, when in reality you’re paying for something that isn’t worth much. The report comprises information from more than 200 studies in 55 countries. The studies found that there is a lot the seafood consumer doesn’t know. In Italy 82 percent of 200 perch, groupers and swordfish were mislabeled. King mackerel is high in mercury and was sold as barracuda and wahoo in South Africa. This could be a problem for people who have adverse reactions to mercury. These mislabeling incidents could kill people.

Farmed Asian catfish is a fish with white flesh that can easily be passed off as more expensive. When it is filleted and covered in sauce it can be sold as perch, cod or grouper. And it is. In Hong Kong only one of 29 samples was correctly labeled. That is a lot of fraud. Two sushi chefs in Southern California were charged for the crime of selling endangered whale meat as tuna with a lot of fat. This is one of the only prosecutions for mislabeling because the meat was endangered. Seafood fraud is a global epidemic really. Researchers have created many different studies and analyses from peer reviewed papers to try and corroborate the fraud and bring it to the surface of people’s minds. There hasn’t been a success story as far as people labeling seafood correctly.

About 80 percent of these studies took place in grocery stores and restaurants. High end locations were targeted specifically, because the most fraud happens in higher priced places. Lower priced places have no reason to pass things off. People are going there for a thrifty meal anyway. Gavin Gibbons is the spokesman for the National Fisheries Institute and he said that the focus of the studies is the most often mislabeled species, and this is a distortion of the facts. The often not mislabeled species weren’t studied at all. Lowell disagreed and said that the over 25,000 samples tested around the world were plenty to represent a larger group that supports a global problem that won’t go away without action. 

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