Today, as the House Appropriations Committee deliberates on the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) FY 2013 federal budget, Oceana is calling on Congress to increase FDA resources to fight seafood fraud and protect American consumers from seafood mislabeling. In a new report titled, “Fishy Business: Do You Know What You Are Really Eating?” Oceana explains how seafood mislabeling and species substitution can have dangerous consequences for public health and ocean ecosystems.
“As seafood fraud becomes more widespread, consumers are going to know less and less about what they’re really eating,” said Oceana campaign director Beth Lowell. “The FDA has a responsibility to ensure that the seafood sold in the United States is safe and properly labeled, and Congress must give them the necessary resources to do this.”
Seafood is one of the most popular foods in the U.S. While the U.S. imports more than 84 percent of its seafood, only two percent is currently inspected by the FDA. Recent studies have shown seafood may be mislabeled as often as 25 to 70 percent of the time for popular fish species like red snapper, wild salmon and Atlantic cod, disguising species that are less desirable, cheaper or more readily available. Not only does mislabeling seafood trick consumers, but it can also allow illegally caught fish to be laundered into the U.S. market. Species substitution and illegal fishing are estimated to cost the U.S. billions of dollars every year and can have a real and harmful impact on ocean ecosystems.
“Consumers have a right to know what they are eating and where it came from. Yet, frankly, customers are being ripped off,” said Lowell. “Fraud of any kind is wrong, illegal and must be stopped.”
Oceana is urging the FDA and Congress to make fighting seafood fraud a priority by allocating additional resources for increased inspections, DNA testing and other ways to detect fraud. The FDA currently has authority to address seafood fraud but has not made it a priority. Congress must provide additional resources to send the message that seafood fraud is a real problem and must be prevented.