A seafood market. (Photo: Megan Stevens)
Nearly one-third of seafood in South Florida mislabelled
Wednesday, July 25, 2012, 00:40 (GMT + 9)
Oceana found that 31 per cent of seafood in South Florida is mislabelled, according to a new report.
The green group’s DNA testing confirmed that nearly one-third of the 96 seafood samples obtained from 60 retail outlets, including grocery stores, restaurants and sushi venues, were mislabelled based on Food and Drug Administration (FDA) guidelines.
“Our results suggest that South Floridians may be receiving a completely different fish than what they’re paying for,” said Dr Kimberly Warner, report author and senior scientist at Oceana. “Not only does seafood fraud cheat consumers and hurt honest seafood businesses, it also puts our health at risk and undermines efforts to eat sustainably.”
Fresh fish fillets. (NOAA)
Answers: 1. Left photo is escolar or oilfi sh. 2. Left is Nile perch. 3. Right is mako shark. 4. Right is rockfi sh. 5. Left is farmed Atlantic salmon.
Continued efforts by local and state authorities to combat seafood fraud over the past thirty years have failed to keep mislabelling rates below 15-31 per cent. Oceana’s investigation targeted species with regional significance and those found to be mislabelled from previous studies, including red and yellowtail snapper, grouper, wild salmon, yellowtail and white tuna.
The report’s key findings include:
- Fraud was detected in half of the 14 different types of fish collected;
- Sushi venues had the highest proportion of mislabelled samples (58 per cent);
- All of the white tuna samples from sushi venues were actually escolar, a species that can cause illness;
- Red snapper was mislabelled 86 per cent of the time;
- Grouper mislabeling dropped from a high of 40 to 50 per cent during the height of the fake grouper scam in the mid-2000s to 16 per cent in this study;
- The most egregious fish swap was king mackerel, a high-mercury fish that carries a “Do Not Eat” health warning for sensitive groups, being sold as “grouper.”
“The results are disturbing,” said Beth Lowell, campaign director at Oceana. “The continued mislabelling of seafood in Florida shows that inspections alone are not enough. Seafood needs to be traced from boat to plate to ensure that it is safe, legal and honestly labelled.”
|(Video: OCEANA/Footage supplied by Getty Images Editorial Footage/Getty Images)
Oceana’s findings in Los Angeles showed 55 per cent of fish mislabelled and in Boston 48 per cent.
Oceana launched a campaign in May 2011 to Stop Seafood Fraud.
In a report released last year, "Bait and Switch: How Seafood Fraud Hurts Our Oceans, Our Wallets and Our Health," Oceana found that while 84 per cent of the seafood eaten in the US is imported, only 2 per cent is inspected and less than 0.001 per cent specifically for fraud. Recent studies have found that seafood may be mislabelled as often as 25 to 70 per cent of the time for species like red snapper, wild salmon and Atlantic cod.
Oceana is urging the federal government to ensure that the seafood sold in the US is safe, legal and honestly labelled, including requiring a traceability system throughout the supply chain.
- Half of seafood in Southern California mislabelled: study
By Natalia Real