Illegal Mislabeling of Sushi Bar and Other Fish Now Prevalent in U.S.

posted by Frank Butterman Food Inspector @ 1:47 AM
February 22, 2013

sushi-plate        An unimpeachable study by the Oceana conservancy group has found that a third of the fish being sold or served in America’s restaurants, grocery stores and sushi bars is illegally labeled.  Such mislabeling threatens public health.

Of the 1,215 fish samples tested from 674 retail outlets in all U.S. regions since 2010, some states fared worse than others, dependent on certain types of fish.  In New York, for example, 94% of fish sold as tuna was not tuna at all.

In ‘Survey Finds That Fish Are Often Not What Label Says,’ Kirk Johnson says: “The study also contained surprises about where consumers were most likely to be misled—sushi bars topped the list in every city studied—while grocery stores were most likely to be selling fish honestly. Restaurants ranked in the middle.”

Owner of Dirk’s Fish Gourmet Shop tells Monica Eng of the Chicago Tribune that fish substitutions are driven by industry profits.  In ‘Are Chicago Diners Getting the Fish They Paid For?’ Eng writes:  “Chicago diners who think they are eating red snapper may actually be munching on goldbanded jobfish.  Those who order Alaskan cod may really be tucking into a threadfin slickhead. And fans of yellowtail could just be getting a fish tale.”

Eng explains:  “Improperly labeled fish can cost consumers financially, but these substitutions also can have health consequences. As in many cities, Chicago purveyors were found marketing white tuna that was actually escolar, which is cheaper and can cause severe digestive problems.”

Nadia Arumugam of Forbes adds:  “Certain fish are known to build up mercury in their meat, and these should be avoided, particularly by pregnant women. Tilefish and king mackerel are two such fish: both were sold to consumers who believed they were procuring red snapper and halibut respectively.”

Beth Lowell, of Oceana advises:  “Purchasing seafood has become the ultimate guessing game for U.S. consumers. . . fish-and-chipsno one is safe from seafood fraud. We need to track our seafood from boat to plate so that consumers can be more confident that the fish they purchase is safe, legal and honestly labeled.”

Arumugam points to other astounding findings from Oceana:  “Of the 120 samples of fish touted as red snapper, only seven transpired to be the genuine article;  In New York City, EVERY sushi venue sold mislabeled fish; In Washington D.C., EVERY snapper sample was mislabeled . . .”

Eugene Gorrin writes in response to the New York Times article on such common illegal tactics among those who sell food in our land:  “Another step in the decline of America––deception over honesty, cutting corners rather than doing the right thing, screwing over others to get an advantage.”

Of course government regulators are not investigating.  As online Bible lessons reveal, such theft awaits God’s harshest judgment:  “He is a merchant, the balances of deceit are in his hand: he loveth to oppress (Hosea 12: 7).”  Such evil!

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