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‘Seafood fraud’ shocker: one-third of fish sold in the U.S. is mislabeled

An environmental advocacy group has found that one-third of seafood sold in grocery stores and restaurants is incorrectly labeled, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Oceana conducted DNA testing of seafood samples for two years, and found that the most commonly mislabeled fish were red snapper and tuna, the LA Times reported.

Eighty-seven percent of the snapper samples turned out to be another kind of fish, most frequently rockfish or tilapia, but sometimes tilefish, which contains high levels of mercury and the FDA says should be avoided by pregnant women, the LA Times reported. Tuna was not really tuna in 59 percent of the samples. Often it was escolar instead.

The study found that mislabeling occurred most frequently at sushi bars and least frequently at grocery stores, the New York Times reported.

“Our findings demonstrate that a comprehensive and transparent traceability system – one that tracks fish from boat to plate – must be established at the national level,” Oceana said in a statement today, according to the LA Times. “At the same time, increased inspection and testing of our seafood, specifically for mislabeling, and stronger federal and state enforcement of existing laws combating fraud are needed to reverse these disturbing trends.”

The Oceana study does not identify whether mislabeling tends to occur with the wholesaler, the retailer or at the fishing dock, nor whether it’s typically intentional or an innocent mistake, the New York Times reported.

Comments (1)

  1. Submitted by Todd Hintz on 02/26/2013 - 04:38 pm.


    If the mislabeling is occurring 87% and 59% of the time on certain fishes, it ain’t an innocent mistake. Given that level of nonconformity people are deliberately changing labels as the fish moves through the supply chain, probably to market a cheap fish as a more expensive species.

    And to think some people advocate for less regulation and government oversight. This is what happens when you don’t have the rule of law to create a level (and honest) playing field.

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