The newsLINK Group - There's Something Fishy Going On

Editorial Library Category: Restaurants Topics: Fish Title: There’s Something Fishy Going On Author: newsLINK Staff Synopsis: A lot of restaurants rely on fish, especially those where seafood has a starring role on the menu. But as someone in the restaurant business, have you ever wondered about whether your suppliers are being honest when it comes to the seafood they sell you? Editorial: There’s Something Fishy Going On 4064 South Highland Drive, Millcreek, Utah 84124 │ thenewslinkgroup.com │ (v) 801.676.9722 │ (tf) 855.747.4003 │ (f) 801.742.5803 Editorial Library | © The newsLINK Group LLC 1 A lot of restaurants rely on fish, especially those where seafood has a starring role on the menu. But as someone in the restaurant business, have you ever wondered about whether your suppliers are being honest when it comes to the seafood they sell you? And how sure are you about the integrity of the supply chain between the ocean and your suppliers, and ultimately you? An international organization called Oceana, which is dedicated to protecting earth’s oceans, has researched that exact question. Oceana conducted a study about seafood fraud from 2010 to 2012 and collected 1,215 samples. The samples were from 674 retail outlets located in some 21 states. Oceana performed DNA tests on the food to determine whether these samples were labeled in accordance with U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Guidelines, and the test results were released in February 2013. What does the report say? Oceana discovered there’s a really good chance you’ve been swindled when you’ve bought seafood. How likely is it? Oceana found that the label on the tested samples was wrong 33 percent of the time. Of the 46 fish types that were tested, 59 percent of them were mislabeled. It has clearly become a common practice to substitute one kind of seafood for for another one. Although the practice is dishonest and illegal, it happens frequently throughout the entire world because (until Oceana took an interest in the subject) nobody was checking. Snapper and tuna were the most likely fish to be mislabeled. Out of 120 samples labeled as red snapper, for example, only seven of the samples actually were. Eighty-seven percent of the fish labeled as snapper actually wasn’t. Along the same lines, 59 percent of the tuna samples were not tuna. Chilean sea bass, cod, grouper, and halibut were mislabeled 19 to 38 percent of the time, depending on the type of fish involved. In seven percent of the cases, salmon was also mislabeled. Why has this gone on for so long without detection? At least in the U.S., there’s not much by way of federal oversight, government inspections, or supply-chain sampling being done right now. But clearly, more of an interest would be a good idea. Out of the 674 retail outlets where Oceana purchased seafood samples, 44 percent sold mislabeled fish. Mislabeling was highest at sushi restaurants (74 percent), restaurants (38 percent) and grocery stores (18 percent). What the study did not answer was where the substitution actually took place. After fish has been caught, it is processed and then sold wholesale before it is sold on a retail level, so it’s possible that the substitution could have occurred at any point after the fish left the water. Without more information, it is entirely possible that the sushi places, restaurants, and grocery stores are victimized every bit as much as the people who order seafood from the menu and get something different than they thought. What is also clear is the motivation for making the substitution. It’s about somebody maximizing profit. The most likely seafood types to be mislabeled are as follows: Species that carry health advisories being sold as something that doesn’t have an advisory Less expensive farmed fish in place of wild fish Imperiled, overfished, or vulnerable species being sold as something sustainable Species that aren’t on the federal government’s list of 1,700 different kinds of seafood that are either sold or likely to be sold in the U.S. In other words, you might encounter the following substitutions:

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