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May 26, 2011 07:43 PM

Rampant mislabeling of fish -- still

Yet another story about how widespread the mislabeling of fish and shellfish remains in markets and restaurants, based on DNA testing.

"Recent studies by researchers in North America and Europe harnessing the new techniques have consistently found that 20 to 25 percent of the seafood products they check are fraudulently identified, fish geneticists say...." Rates of mislabeling (called "fraud" by critics) are said to be as high as 70% for some species of fish.

" 'If you’re ordering steak, you would never be served horse meat,' said Dr. Hirshfield of Oceana. 'But you can easily be ordering snapper and get tilapia or Vietnamese catfish.' ” ...

“ 'If you can’t even trust that the name is right, then how can you trust anything else on the package, including the date?' she [Dana Miller, a doctoral student who has studied the mislabeling of cod in Ireland] said."

This article mentions the release yesterday of a report calling for better governmental regulation to address the issue.
The non-profit organization sponsoring the report, Oceana, argues that technology-aided traceability should be made a cornerstone of regulation. They note that the European Union has adopted regulations requiring clear identification from ship to consumer of all processors involved in the handling of the fish, for certain species, and that "a number of major seafood providers, including Walmart and Sodexo" have agreed to sell only seafood certified to be traceable in this manner.

Several previous discussions of seafood mislabeling

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  1. As regulatory agencies experience budget cuts and headcount reductions, the mice will play. Harder than before. More than ever, the burden of authenticating a type of fish resides with the consumer. As to it's origin, that's impossible, save for the wharf rats welcoming the incoming boats.

    1. Thought I would add another related story link:

      A lot of work done on this issue thanks in part to Canadian Biologists. It's odd to me that this is now only making headlines, as informed communities have known about this for at least a decade, if not longer. Depresses me that people on Chowhound seem more concerned with Gwyneth Paltrow and her cookery.

      4 Replies
      1. re: Splendid Wine Snob

        Not so much related as recycled from an earlier NYT article by the G&M--typical.

        1. re: Kagemusha

          Yes, it is indeed recycled. I posted it because it focuses on comments made by Dr. Paul Hebert from the University of Guelph who has been instrumental in setting up the International Barcode of Life Project. Credit where credit is due-the NYT article doesn't focus on that.

          1. re: Splendid Wine Snob

            Still too close to outright theft for me--just plain lazy journalism by the G&M.

            1. re: Kagemusha

              Yes, agree. Lots of lazy journalism at the G & M. If only they could have "broke" the story 2 decades earlier-embarrassing considering Canadian biologists (along with others) have been screaming about this for decades.