Bait and Switch – The Trouble With Seafood

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A recent independent review of retail fish sales showed false labels on between 25-37% of all fish sold in America.

About a third of all seafood imports are mislabeled during port inspection.

The United States imports over 80% of all seafood consumed here.

Only 2% of our seafood is ever safety tested.

Mystery fish, and the fraudulent practices behind them, are serious threats to our ecology and our health.

The most common fraudulent fish are those labeled red snapper, swordfish, wild salmon, grouper and Atlantic cod. No matter what some restaurants and supermarkets tell you, yellowfin, yellowtail, bigeye, albacore, skipjack and sometimes even bluefin, are often confused and sold interchangeably.

The alphabet soup of regulatory agencies supposed to regulate seafood safety (and labeling) in America amounts to a mish-mash of feckless bureaucrats doing virtually nothing in either area — unlike meat and poultry which are highly regulated.

The illnesses you can get from tainted seafood make salmonella-infected chicken (or e-coli contaminated beef) seem like a day at the beach. (ELV can personally attest to this one.)

These are but a few of the sobering facts contained in the Oceana Institute’s recent white paper on fraudulent seafood practices throughout the world. Here is a link to the entire 40 page report, and here is the link to today’s New York Times article about this problem.

Read them both and weep…and understand why ELV only eats seafood when he’s within eyesight of an ocean, or at a very good restaurant.

3 thoughts on “Bait and Switch – The Trouble With Seafood

  1. Another common fraudulent fish is Dover Sole. I’ve seen it in supermarkets for under $15/lb or as a restaurant entree for under $12. I all but guarantee you that’s flounder (as is Petrale Sole, a word that has no regulated meaning.)

    Frankly, I’m willing to buy flounder, but I don’t like being lied to about it, and I sure don’t like to pay a markup for false labeling. There’s a word for that, it’s called fraud. I don’t want to fill our prisons with hapless fishmongers, but I’m willing to bet that if some well publicized rulers were brought down hard on the knuckles of just a few fish purveyors, a lot this would disappear in a hurry.

    More than once in both markets and restaurants I’ve seen folks try to pass off farmed salmon as wild, and, as ELV mentions, I bet less than half the fish labeled as cod I’ve seen in the last couple of years is actually cod.

    We can’t let liars off the hook. Keep pounding that bully pulpit, ELV!

  2. So glad I live in south Louisiana and the seafood is so fresh ….. If I was eating steak then I would definitey let the corn fed citizens give there opinions.If u r eating away from local products then u better have a very attention to detail chef on your side or u may end up on a bad food review

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