How would you feel if you found out the red snapper on your plate wasn’t red snapper at all, but instead something illegally fished or potentially unhealthy? A new Oceana study found that 31% of seafood we tested in South Florida is mislabeled, keeping consumers in the dark about what they’re really eating.
Our campaigners used DNA testing on seafood samples from grocery stores, restaurants, and sushi venues in the Miami/Fort Lauderdale and Palm Beach areas. We’ve conducted studies like this in other cities, and the results from Los Angeles and Boston were even more striking—55% of seafood in L.A. was mislabeled and 48% in Boston.
But just because the numbers are lower in South Florida doesn’t mean that seafood fraud is any more acceptable. Some of the fish being served under a different name pose risks to health and sustainability. The study found that king mackerel, a high mercury fish with a health warning for sensitive groups, was being marketed as ‘grouper.’
Sushi restaurants were the biggest offenders, with 58% of samples found to be mislabeled. All the samples of white tuna collected from sushi vendors were actually escolar, a fish species that can make people sick.
The large amount of seafood coming into the U.S. market can make it difficult to trace each item to its source. Oceana is calling on the federal government to ensure that the seafood we find in our markets is safe, legal, and honestly labeled. By implementing a traceability system, consumers can make informed decisions about what they put on their plate.
Sign the petition to fight seafood fraud and ensure you’re getting what you order.
Do you eat seafood? If not, do your friends and loved ones? We think almost everyone out there will answer yes to this, which is why we are launching a campaign today to tackle the problem of seafood fraud.
Last week we gave you a preview of our new seafood fraud campaign, but today, with the launch of a new report, our campaign is officially kicking off.
Oceana’s new report, titled “Bait and Switch: How Seafood Fraud Hurts Our Oceans, Our Wallets and Our Health,” explains how consumers are being misled about the seafood they buy, with negative impacts on their wallets, marine conservation efforts and human health.
Inside the report you’ll find information about the following:
- What is seafood fraud? - We explain the different types of seafood fraud, which share this basic fact in common: you aren’t getting what you pay for.
- Examples of commonly mislabeled seafood - What seafood should you be especially wary of? We give you the lowdown.
- Do you know the origins of your seafood? - We take you through the steps your seafood might have taken from the boat to your plate.
- Health risks of seafood fraud - Learn about the serious consequences to misleading consumers about seafood - from allergic reactions to the potentially debilitating condition called ciguatera.
- Conservation impacts of seafood fraud - Find out how seafood fraud creates a market for illegal fishing and hinders consumer efforts like seafood cards.
- Tips for consumers - With all of this in mind, here are some tips for when you’re shopping for fish.
And you can also take action right now by telling the FDA that our seafood needs to be safe, legal, and honestly labeled.
Check out the full report, and please share with your friends and family! And as always, let us know what you think.