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What Can You Do? Tips for Consumers

Studies suggest that more than one third of seafood is potentially mislabeled. So how will you know if you are being cheated? Price, season, preparation and the specific kind of seafood all affect the chances of fraud. If your seafood is out of season, processed instead of whole, and seems too good a deal to be true, it just might be.

1. Here are some questions you can ask your fishmonger or restaurant server about your seafood. Oceana is working to make sure this information is available for every piece of seafood you buy, whether in a restaurant or store.

  • What kind of fish is this?
  • Is this farmed or wild caught?
  • Where was this fish caught?
  • When was it caught?
  • How was it caught?
  • Was it previously frozen?

2. Some fish are more likely to be mislabeled.

Some fish are much more likely to be fraudulent. Be wary when ordering red snapper, wild salmon, grouper and Atlantic cod.

Several kinds of tuna are sold under one name, including yellowfin, bigeye, albacore, skipjack and sometimes even bluefin tuna. Whether in cans or at a sushi bar, it can be hard to tell which tuna you are eating from the flesh or the label. Many restaurants fail to explain which species is being sold, and those selling the severely overexploited bluefin tuna often conceal its identity or confuse the Atlantic and Pacific species of this fish.

See also our list of Commonly Mislabeled Seafood

3. Processed seafood is more likely to be fraudulent.

Processing removes the skin, head, and other parts of a fish used for identification, so fillets and prepared seafood offer more opportunities for fraud. For example, anglerfish are more likely to be mislabeled when sold in processed products than as whole fish.

Squid is easy to disguise because it is sold primarily in rings. More expensive Loligo species are often replaced with cheaper squid including Illex shortfin squid, flying squid, and jumbo Humboldt squid.

Processing can also mask the identity of shellfish. Clams are also vulnerable to seafood fraud because they are often combined with other ingredients and sold without shells.