The Beacon

500 Chefs Agree: End Seafood Fraud

Illegally-caught fish is not on the menu

The cuisine of Mario Batali, Rick Bayless, Daniel Boulud, Thomas Keller, Jacques Pepin, Eric Ripert and Michael Symon may run the gamut from modern French to traditional Mexican, but they can all agree on one thing: It is time to end seafood fraud.

More than 500 chefs and restaurateurs have have joined Oceana's fight against seafood fraud by signing a letter penned by chef and Oceana supporter Barton Seaver, calling on congress to put an end to the deceptive and possibly dangerous practice of mislabeled seafood. It reads in part:

Recent studies have found that seafood may be mislabeled as often as 25 to 70 percent of the time for popular species like red snapper, wild salmon and Atlantic cod, disguising fish that are less desirable, cheaper or more readily available.

With about 1,700 different species of seafood from all over the world now available in the U.S., it is unrealistic to expect chefs and restaurant owners to be able to independently and accurately determine that the fish they are getting is actually the one they paid for. We should be able to tell our customers, without question, what they are eating as well as where, when and how it was caught.

Investigations by Oceana and others have revealed that consumers in several metropolitan areas are routinely served something other than what is on the menu or at the fish market. In the Boston area, seafood was mislabled 48 percent of the time, in Los Angeles 55 percent of the time, and in Miami 31 percent of the time.

But seafood fraud does more than mislead consumers, it's bad for the seafood as well. Customers may have no way of knowing whether they are eating an overexploited species or one that was caught illegally.

In July, Representatives Edward Markey (D-MA) and Barney Frank (D-MA) introduced the Safety and Fraud Enforcement for Seafood (SAFE Seafood) Act (H.R. 6200). The legislation requires full traceability for all seafood sold in the U.S. Oceana is currently building support in congrees for this important bill. Show you care about what's on your plate and sign our petition.


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