Oceana Study finds 33% of Seafood Mislabeled

Seafood Mislabeling

Seafood, [Should] You Eat It

You might need to pack your fish guide, microscope and safety gloves next time you visit the local supermarket or restaurant to make sure you’re getting the right fish for dinner. Consumers aren’t forced to be knowledgeable about the products they buy- that’s why we have proper labeling such as nutrition facts, product name and variety on the packages all regulated by the FDA. Seafood doesn’t come packaged in a pretty box with %DV written on the front, and at times, even the label of the seafood is incorrect. In a recent study conducted by Oceana, their results provide insight into the depths of their research on seafood mislabeling,

Overall, one third (33 percent) of the fish samples genetically analyzed were mislabeled (401 out of 1,215). However, mislabeling rates varied greatly depending on the type of fish purchased. Of the most commonly sampled fish, snapper and tuna had the highest mislabeling rates (87 and 59 percent, respectively), with the majority of the samples identified as something other than what was purchased. Halibut, grouper, cod and Chilean seabass were mislabeled between 19 and 38 percent of the time, while lower levels of mislabeling were noted among salmon (7 percent) and sole (9 percent)
The type of fish sees a direct correlation to mislabeling therefore it’s important to note that salmon and sole are more likely to be labeled correctly as opposed to the snapper and tuna. Where the fish were mislabeled is important to note too. It’s not simply just at grocery stores; as the research by Oceana states,

Fish samples were purchased from three types of retail outlets: grocery stores (including a few seafood markets), restaurants and sushi venues. Forty*four percent of the 674 retail outlets visited sold mislabeled fish. Roughly three times as many samples were purchased from grocery stores (731) as from either restaurants (243) or sushi venues (241).

The chart below the Oceana group’s report gives a shocking visual of the types of fish most commonly mislabeled.

Seafood mislabeled by fish

Reasons seafood is mislabeled:

  • Maliciousness/price gouging
  • ignorance on species
  • lack of bar codes and tracking
  • limited FDA involvement (less than 1% has been tested by the FDA)

After a review of the FDA’s press announcements section on their website, and a skim through the front page and search there’s no information related to the seafood mislabeling. At least we know that on February 20, 2013 – FDA approves new silicone breast implant. Priorities, people.

The best practice, if you’re concerned about what fish you’re getting would be to order seafood that has less of a chance of being mislabeled. Until more stringent measures are put in place we are at the mercy of the label.

For more information on the Seafood mislabeling controversy, check out Oceana North America.

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