When you think that you eat tuna, there is a great chance that you are not eating tuna. The majority of the fish that is labeled like “white tuna” might be escolar, which is a kind of fish that can cause some serious digestive problems, even oily anal leakage.
Oceana, which is the ocean protection group (non-profit) that presented the findings, further discovered that about 60% of the “tuna” sold at the grocery stores and restaurants is another kind of fish completely, and the results turn out worst for the sushi restaurants.
Do you love Sushi? Skip the “Tuna”
The Oceana provided DNA testing on 1,200 fish examples and more across the United States and discovered that 1/3 were mislabeled. While the red snapper had the highest mislabeling rates, tuna was a close 2nd, with 59% mislabeled.
At the sushi restaurants, 74% of the fish examples were mislabeled. This included every sushi restaurant from which the samples were examined, even in some major metropolitan areas like Austin, Chicago, Washington DC and New York.
According to the 69 page report of the Oceana, in most of the cases the mislabeled fish had been changed for less desirable, cheaper and more readily available varieties. The results showed:
- 87% of the fish sold as snapper was some other type of fish
- Mislabeling was discovered in 27 of 47 fish types examined (59%)
- 59% of the tuna were actually some other fish type
- Halibut, grouper, and red snapper were substituted with tile fish and king mackerel, 2 types of fish that the FDA recommends pregnant women and sensitive people to avoid because of the dangerously high content of mercury.
Just 1% of the imported seafood has been examined for fraud!
How are so many of the seafood retailers getting away with the sale of mislabeled fish? It is so simple, no one cares in the store.
More than 90% of the seafood that is consumed in the United States is imported, yet just 1% of the imports have been examined for fraud, and that explains this situation.
According to Oceana, their findings show that a transparent and comprehensive traceability system (one which tracks the fish from the boat to the plate) has to be established at national level.
And at the same time the increased testing and inspection of the seafood, and the stronger state enforcement of laws fighting the fraud are needed to reverse the disturbing trends.
The government is responsible to give us more information about the fish that is sold in the United States, like the seafood fraud harms not just the wallets of the consumers, but also every honest merchant and fisherman cheated in that process.