Entries in Fish (2)


Fish Fraud: Is Your Snapper Really Tilapia?

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Take a close look at that fish you buy from the grocery store or the sushi you order from a restaurant. It might not be what you think it is.

The conservation group Oceana recently sampled 96 supermarkets, restaurants, and sushi venues in South Florida and found that 31 percent of the time, the fish you order or buy is mislabeled. For instance, when you order or buy snapper, you'll sometimes get tilapia because it’s a cheaper variety.

“Most of our mislabeling was, I would presume for economic reasons, where you would get a farmed product being sold as a wild species,” said Oceana's Kimberly Warner.

One of the worst problems, she says, was with white tuna; it was mislabeled at every single one of the sushi restaurants researchers looked at -- and the fish that was on the plate instead, it turns out, can make you sick.

“Everything that was labeled white tuna was actually this escolar species, and it's a fish that the FDA warns people not to eat because of this naturally occurring toxin that it has,” Warner said.


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She advises consumers to ask where the fish they're buying was caught, how it was caught, and what kind it is. And just like when it comes to the rest of our food, many believe that more regulation is needed.

“Ultimately, the solution is going to be a full traceability system for our seafood,” Warner said. “Right now, it's really hard to tell where on this very murky supply chain the fish fraud is occurring.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Fishy Business: US Agency Tries to Prevent Net Weight Fraud

Medioimages/Photodisc/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The National Marine Fisheries Service wants to make sure that the pricey pound of scallops you buy is indeed a pound of scallops.

Although layering fish with ice -- “overglazing ”-- and plumping up scallops with a sodium-based solution -- “soaking” -- are acceptable practices in the industry, intended to keep seafood fresh, the practice of adding vast amounts of water can misrepresent the net weight of the seafood.

The fisheries service is targeting this type of intentional mislabeling.

Steven Wilson, chief quality officer of the National Marine Fisheries Service seafood inspection program, said that mislabeling seafood -- from species substitution to misrepresenting net weight -- is fraud.

“It’s gotten out of hand,” he said. “Consumers are paying $10 to $20 on water, depending on the product.”

Recent studies have found that seafood may be mislabeled as often as 25 to 70 percent of the time. Wilson’s agency has announced that it will set voluntary quality standards for the industry to follow.

“The idea is to inform the consumer of what they’re purchasing,” Wilson said. “The agency will make sure labels are accurate.”

Of the seafood products his agency has been asked to inspect, Wilson said, at least 40 percent suffered from some sort of “economic fraud.” Eight in 10 of those cases dealt with a net weight problem.

“The idea of net weight issues, that’s not new,” he told ABC News Thursday, “[but] it has increased dramatically over the last decade....This is becoming more and more prevalent for consumers.”

Wilson said that although the Food and Drug Administration regulated seafood, tight funds have meant that concerns about food safety took priority at times over issues like net weight.

He said that there were currently no industry standards in place stating how much water was acceptable to use when treating seafood. He also said that the majority of companies in the industry were in agreement on the need for rules.

Margot Stiles, senior scientist at Oceana, an international nonprofit working to protect the world’s oceans, said the net weight issue reflected a larger problem with seafood in the U.S. -- a lack of government oversight over an industry in which 85 percent of the product is imported.

Stiles said that although the National Marine Fisheries Service’s plan to create standards was a step in the right direction, meeting the standards should be mandatory.

“You’re never going to reach the bad guys with a voluntary program,” Stiles said. “It’s like asking people to turn themselves into the police station. I think voluntary isn’t good enough.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio