seafood fraud

NY Times Talks to Oceana About Seafood Fraud

Posted Thu, Feb 21, 2013 by admin to national seafood fraud report, seafood fraud

Right now on the New York Times TimesCast Oceana senior scientist Kimberly Warner is discussing Oceana's landmark National Seafood Fraud Report issued today. You can watch that interview above and read the Times' take on this sweeping investigation.

The report found that one third of the seafood that was DNA tested nationwide, from 1,215 fish samples in 21 states, was mislabeled.

Get educated about seafood fraud and check out our report to see how seafood fraud affects you.


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Oceana Visits Dr. Oz

Posted Tue, Feb 12, 2013 by admin to dr. oz, seafood fraud


Oceana campaign director Beth Lowell dropped by the set of Dr. Oz yesterday to talk seafood fraud with the doc in a segment about mislabeled foods.

In December Oceana released its seafood fraud report for New York City which found that 39 percent of seafood tested in the area, was something other than what was advertised on the menu. The report mirrored other Oceana reports which found that seafood fraud was a widespread problem in other metropolitan areas like Boston, Los Angeles and Miami.

Click the links below for parts 2 and 3 of Beth's appearance.

http://www.doctoroz.com/videos/dr-oz-investigates-supermarket-food-fraud-pt-2

http://www.doctoroz.com/videos/dr-oz-investigates-supermarket-food-fraud-pt-3


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Massachusetts Tackles Seafood Fraud

Posted Thu, Jan 24, 2013 by Sarah Williamson to escolar, massachusetts, seafood fraud

Massachusetts legislators are taking a stand against seafood fraud, which includes mislabeling or substituting one type of fish for another that is cheaper, less desirable or more readily available, usually for financial gain.  Oceana commends the Massachusetts Legislature for taking up the bill (H.D. 3189) and sees it as a major step toward combating the growing problem of seafood fraud.

How much do you know about seafood fraud? Take this quiz to find out!


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NYC Seafood Fraud Report Making Waves

Posted Wed, Dec 19, 2012 by admin to marion nestle, new york city, new york times, seafood fraud

What's on your plate? Source: wikimedia commons

Spurred by Oceana’s seafood fraud report for New York City released last week, Sunday’s New York Times took a broader look at the widespread practice of food mislabeling.

Oceana’s initial report, which was also covered in the Times, included a number of eyebrow-raising findings.  After analyzing 142 samples, Oceana found that 56 of them, or 39 percent tested in New York City, were something other than what was advertised on the menu.

It also found that 100 percent of sushi restaurants tested in the area sold mislabeled fish, that 94 percent of “white tuna” was, in fact, escolar (a fish which can cause gastrointestinal problems in some diners), and that 79 percent of red snapper was mislabeled, in one instance being switched with tilefish, which is on the FDA’s do not eat list because of its high mercury content.

Chef Tom Colicchio was not shocked by this latest round of fraud uncovered by Oceana. “This has been going on for as long as I’ve been cooking,” he says in the article. 500 chefs, from Eric Ripert to Mario Batali have signed a letter calling on Congress to end to seafood mislabeling.

The article suggests that diners can arm themselves with a baseline of seafood-related knowledge to fend off fraudulent menu items:

“If a restaurant claims to have fresh Maine diver scallops in July, it helps to know that the tightly regulated bivalves can be harvested only from December to March. (And that they are rarely taken from the sea by actual divers.) Fresh wild Alaska salmon should not be on plates in January.”


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NBC News and NY Times Take on Seafood Fraud

Posted Wed, Dec 12, 2012 by admin to new york city, seafood fraud

 

Last night, NBC Nightly News took note of Oceana's most recent troubling report about the widespread problem of seafood fraud.

The report focused on fish that was purchased in the New York City area and subjected to DNA testing. That testing revealed, among other startling findings, that 79 percent of red snapper served in New York City restaurants and grocery stores was replaced with less expensive fish, like tilefish. The FDA warns pregnant women and young children to avoid tilefish altogether because of its high mercury content.

Similarly 94% of white tuna served at sushi restaurants was in fact escolar, a fish whose high levels of wax esthers can potentially cause diarrhea in diners.

Meanwhile the New York Times detailed Oceana's report in its Tuesday Science section, in the article "Tests Say Mislabeled Fish is a Widespread Problem":

The findings are broadly similar to those of studies Oceana has conducted in Los Angeles, Boston and Miami, where 55, 48 and 31 percent of samples, respectively, were mislabeled.

One finding that surprised the research team was that national chain supermarkets offered less mislabeled seafood than regional chains or small specialty markets. High prices were no guarantee of accurate labeling: one restaurant in the highest price range offered red snapper on its menu but, according to Oceana, was serving up lowly tilapia.

Learn more about seafood fraud and what Oceana is doing to fight it.


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Oceana Uncovers Widespread Seafood Fraud in NYC

Posted Tue, Dec 11, 2012 by admin to escolar, NBC Today Show, new york city, seafood fraud, sushi, white tuna

Today Oceana released a new report documenting the problem of widespread seafood fraud in the New York City area. A full 39 percent of seafood sold in New York City grocery stores, restaurants and sushi venues was found to be mislabeled.

Out of 142 samples Oceana conducted DNA testing on, from 81 separate businesses, 56 were found to be different species than advertised. Oftentimes cheaper fish was swapped in for more expensive species, but seafood fraud can be an issue of consumer safety as well, as discussed in the above segment aired on the NBC's Today Show this morning covering Oceana's report.

The report's key findings were:

The fraud could even lead consumers to unknowingly violate religious dietary restrictions, such as when kosher fish like albacore or pacific cod are replaced by non-kosher fish, like escolar and sutchi catfish, respectively.

“Everywhere we look, we find seafood fraud, and New York City is no exception,” said Beth Lowell, campaign director at Oceana. “Seafood fraud is a national problem that requires national attention. Traceability, tracking fish from boat to plate, will ensure that seafood is safe, legal and honestly labeled while preventing consumers from getting ripped off. ”

Elsewhere Oceana and others have found similar levels of fraud: in Boston 48 percent of seafood was mislabeled, in Los Angeles that figure reached 55 percent and in Miami 31 percent. Oceana is urging congress to pass the Safety and Fraud Enforcement for Seafood (SAFE Seafood) Act, H.R. 6200, introduced this summer by Reps. Edward Markey (D-MA), Barney Frank (D-MA) and Walter Jones (R-NC). The Bill would require full traceability for all seafood sold in the U.S.

Show you care about what's on your plate and sign our petition. Learn more about seafood fraud. 


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Oceana Talks Seafood Fraud on ABC's 20/20

Posted Tue, Nov 20, 2012 by admin to barton seaver, escolar, mike hirshfield, red snapper, seafood fraud, sushi, white tuna

2020

Oceana’s senior vice president for North America and chief scientist Mike Hirshfield sat down with 20/20 to discuss the widespread problem of seafood fraud (skip to around 3:30 in the video). He gives a stark example of the problem.

If you go to Los Angeles and eat red snapper everyday for the next 30 days you will never see red snapper,” he says.

Not only does seafood fraud affect consumers' pocketbooks (inferior fish are often labeled as more expensive fish and drastically marked up) but it can be dangerous as well. As ABC found in their own investigation, 86% of sushi labeled as white tuna around the country was, in fact, escolar, a fish whose high content of waxy esters can cause "intestinal distress", to put it politely. The results echo Oceana's own investigations of seafood markets and restaurants in Boston, L.A. and Miami which found the problem of fraud to be widespread.

ABC also spoke with Oceana supporter, chef and National Geographic fellow Barton Seaver.

"40,000 fish of copper river salmon were sold last year," he says. "Well, sorry, only 12,000 fish were caught in Copper River last year."

Seaver admits that even chefs of his caliber are vulnerable to the tricks of deceptive marketing, as he describes his recent experience being duped into buying inferior asian crab meat marketed as Maryland blue crab. One of the major problems, he says, is that the country imports more than 85% of its fish but the FDA inspects less than 2% of it.  It's why over 500 chefs signed a letter calling for full traceability of seafood sold in the U.S. and why 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 that all seafood sold in the U.S. be fully traceable. Oceana is currently building support in Congress for this important bill. Show you care about what's on your plate and sign our petition.


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500 Chefs Agree: End Seafood Fraud

Posted Thu, Oct 25, 2012 by admin to barney frank, Barton Sever, Edward Markey, 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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Chef Barton Seaver gets Duped by Seafood Fraud

Posted Mon, Oct 22, 2012 by admin to asian jumbo lump crabmeat, barton seaver, Maryland Blue Crab, national geographic, seafood fraud

Chef Barton Seaver

Sustainability-minded chef and National Geographic fellow Barton Seaver is the latest victim of seafood fraud. He admitted as much in a recent post on National Geographic's Ocean Views blog. Shopping at one of his favorite seafood markets Seaver was taken in by what he thought to be that staple of mid-Atlantic cuisine, the Maryland blue crab. As he tells it, he didn't get what he paid for:

"Back in my kitchen, the container held beautiful giant lumps of meat, larger than I have seen in decades. I was pleased and thought to myself “hey, the crabs are doing well if we are catching them this big”. I noticed a small red ring on some joints where the muscle had met the leg of the crab, a color that I was not used to seeing. I chalked it up to “maybe I haven’t ever seen crabs this big.” On I went, adding the lemon juice, mayonnaise, and a dusting of breadcrumbs. I texted a picture of the crab to my friend who works with the State of Maryland fisheries congratulating him on the conservation efforts that had obviously worked to bring crab meat this big to my table.

His response, 'Asian! The red tip to the lump gives it away.' I had been beat. Even though I had read the sign, checked the label, and smelled the product, I had been duped."

Seaver also relays how, upon closer inspection, the container attested to the fact that the meat had been pumped with preservatives as well as a water rentention agent. A recent Boston Globe investigation revealed that such chemicals, like sodium tripolyphosphate, are routinely used to plump up seafood, boosting profits for distributors who sell by the pound. Unsurprisingly, Seaver says that the quality of the product suffered as well.

"I tasted the crab and there was a lingering chemical acidity and a muted flavor. Not what I was expecting, nor what I was led to believe I was buying."

Along with U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA), who earlier this week wrote a letter to the FDA demanding stricter monitoring and enforcement of seafood fraud, Seaver wants to end this deceitful and possibly dangerous practice, and asks readers to sign Oceana's petition to congress for stricter labeling and enforcement. Join the fight against seafood fraud and sign the petition!


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