white tuna

Boston-area Restaurants Still Serving up Fraudulent Fish

Posted Wed, Dec 5, 2012 by admin to atlantic cod, escolar, tilapia, white tuna

Are you getting tuna or escolar? © NOAA

A year after Boston Globe investigative reporters revealed that the fish on the menu at many Massachusetts restaurants often had little relation to what ended up on the plate, they went back for seconds. As it turns out many of the same restaurants originally cited for selling mislabeled fish are still up to their old tricks.

Cheaper tilapia was often marked up and sold as more expensive red snapper or albacore. Frozen Pacific cod was similarly marked up and sold as fresh, more expensive Atlantic cod. Not only is the consumer cheated in such instances, but there remains the very real concern about food safety.

As the Globe article notes:

“Much of the substitution occurs with imported fish, which now makes up about 91 percent of the seafood Americans consume. Disease outbreaks linked to imported fish have increased in recent years, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, making it more urgent to better regulate the supply chain.”

One of the more common substitutions cited in the article is that of escolar masquerading as white tuna. Escolar has earned the unfortunate moniker “the ex-lax fish” due to the rather unpleasant gastrointestinal effects associated with its consumption.

Oceana campaign director Beth Lowell was quoted in the article decrying the practice.

“The public should be frustrated. How can we trust the food we eat when we can’t even trust basic information on the label or a menu?”

Oceana senior vice president for North America and chief scientist Mike Hirshfield recently sat down with 20/20 to discuss the widespread problem of seafood fraud, telling ABC:

“I would be astonished if anyone buying white tuna or super white tuna at a sushi restaurant got anything other than escolar.”

If you care about what ends up on your plate sign our petition


Continue reading...

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.


Continue reading...

New Report: Seafood Fraud in South Florida

Posted Mon, Jul 23, 2012 by Michelle Cassidy to DNA testing, escolar, fort lauderdale, grocery stores, grouper, health, miami, palm beach, petition, red snapper, restaurants, seafood fraud, seafood mislabeling, south florida, sushi, sustainable seafood, traceability, white tuna

sushi

58% of samples from sushi vendors in South Florida were mislabeled ©Wikimedia Commons

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.


Continue reading...