Seafood fraud is being blamed in a study that revealed 33 percent of fish is mislabeled. The study, conducted between 2010 and 2012, revealed that one-third of seafood sold in the US was labeled incorrectly.
The research was conducted by international advocacy group Oceana. The non-profit organization is dedicated to ocean conservation. Oceana conducted the study in an effort to expose seafood fraud and discourage overfishing.
As stated in the study, Oceana collected 1,215 seafood samples from 674 retailers across the nation. Retail locations included grocery stores, restaurants, and sushi vendors. The samples were submitted for DNA testing to determine if the seafood matched labels on the packaging.
The study revealed widespread seafood fraud as 33 percent of the samples were mislabeled. Packages labeled as “red snapper” or “tuna” were found to be mislabeled most often. DNA testing revealed that only seven of 120 “red snapper” packages actually contained red snapper.
As reported by heraldonline.com, of the areas included in the study, Southern California had the most instances of mislabeled fish. More than 50 percent of fish from Southern California was labeled incorrectly. Seafood fraud is not only misleading; it can lead to much bigger problems including health concerns.
Samples collected in New York, New York labeled as “halibut” and “red snapper” were found to include tilefish. The FDA has listed tilefish as containing high levels of mercury, which can be dangerous. In South Florida, king mackerel was sold as “grouper.” Like tilefish, king mackerel is included in the FDA “Do Not Eat” list due to high levels of mercury. Numerous packages of “white tuna” from all areas were found to be escolar. The FDA advises against consuming escolar as it can cause serious gastrointestinal illness.
The FDA has released documentation in an effort to educate consumers about seafood fraud. As 33 percent of fish is mislabeled, the documentation includes guides to assist with visual identification.