The Beacon

Boston-area Restaurants Still Serving up Fraudulent Fish

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.”

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