The Beacon

New Report: Widespread Seafood Fraud in LA

Red snapper is often mislabeled. [image via Wikimedia Commons]

Something’s fishy in Los Angeles.

That’s according to our new report, which found widespread seafood mislabeling in the LA-area. DNA testing confirms that 55 percent of the seafood our campaigners sampled was mislabeled based on federal law.

In May and December of 2011, Oceana staff and supporters collected 119 seafood samples from grocery stores, restaurants and sushi venues in Los Angeles and Orange counties. The targeted species included those that were found to be mislabeled in previous studies as well as those with regional significance such as wild salmon, Dover or other regional soles, red snapper, yellowtail and white tuna. 

Among the report’s other key findings include:

  • Fraud was detected in 11 out of 18 different types of fish purchased.
  • Every single fish sold with the word “snapper” in the label (34 out of 34) was mislabeled, according to federal guidelines.
  • Nearly nine out of every ten sushi samples was mislabeled.
  • Eight out of nine sushi samples labeled as “white tuna” were actually escolar, a species that carries a health warning for it laxative effects.

Earlier this year, California State Senator Ted W. Lieu introduced legislation, sponsored by Oceana, that would require large restaurant chains to accurately label their seafood by species, country of origin and whether it is farmed or wild. The bill would be a great first step to ending seafood fraud.

Last October, Oceana also found mislabeling of nearly one in five fish fillets sampled in Boston-area supermarkets.

“It is disheartening to know that consumers are not getting what they pay for,” said Beth Lowell, campaign director at Oceana. “Seafood fraud is not only ripping off consumers, but it is putting their health at risk and undermining their efforts to eat sustainably.”

Check out the LA Times story about our report and take action by telling your Senators to stop seafood fraud.


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