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Oct 6, 2013 08:19 PM

Journal de Montreal Feature - Fish mislabeling

Interesting article in this morning's (October 6th) Journal about the games being played with fish identification in both fishmonger's as well as restaurant facilities. Reporters identified a number of establishments, particulary sushi joints, where Red Tuna, is being substituted with Bigeye Tuna. Seems the only way to confirm the real identity of your fish product is DNA testing, which is time-consuming and expensive according to the reporters. And our fod agencies seem much more interested in shellfish inspection that in identifying and challenging mislabeled fish products. And a standard excuse the retailers/restaurants give is that their fish orders come in labeled as the real thing and, alas, you get tilapia or pangasius instead of snapper or sole.

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    1. I read it yesterday, I have a solution don't allow any of that disgusting fish from China and surroundings where they have zero standards.

      1. I'm not a journal de montreal VIP member so can't read the story on-line.
        This type of article pops up quite frequently in the US: reporters go to sushi places then get the fish IDed elsewhere. The vast majority of fish ain't what its supposed to be.
        Even if all fish is checked out and verified at the wholesale level, its tough to control every retail and restaurant outlet where its mighty tempting to replace an inexpensive fish for a more expensive one...

        1. This is not new news.

          Fish labeling is and has been an issue for a long time in Sushi shop here in Montréal and everywhere else.

          I'm certain I've read about this in different news outlet a couple of years ago.

          1. One fish that bugs me is pangasius. It's everywhere these days. Some places call it pangasius, other places call it basa. Both are correct. Problem is, it's a catfish, and not many people know that. Don't get me wrong. I have nothing against catfish, but some folks, for whatever reason, might be adverse to catfish and not know this. Also (and this, for me, is the worst part) these fish are harvested largely from the Mekong Delta, which is one of the most polluted river systems in the world. Everything from human waste to heavy metals from dumped computer parts can be found there. And catfish are bottom feeders so all the crap that sifts down the bottom, they suck up.

            American catfish farmers, who carefully breed their stock in closed pens, have long accused the Vietnamese of "dumping". I tend to agree with them. Ever tried to find a Blue Catfish (US breed) here? But pangasius is everywhere - even at your local jo blo supermarket.

            7 Replies
            1. re: Haggisboy

              also being marketed as Swai.

              I'm with you, Chinese fish is out of the question.

              1. re: Haggisboy

                A friend on another forum travels to Vietnam frequently for his work, and says his Vietnamese colleagues call pangasius "shitfish" and won't eat it - in a culture not known to be squeamish.

                Why couldn't catfish be farmed in Canada?

                Yes, even chains such as Loblaws, Metro and IGA sell pangasius/basa/swai. It is very tempting for families with limited means as it is so cheap.

                Such stories are common in European (continental and UK) media as well.

                1. re: lagatta

                  I think the reasons why catfish isn't farmed here in Canada are twofold.

                  1) Though I'm no expert on this, the water temp might be too cold on average for the Blue variety, which seems to be the most popular for food consumption which would rule out outdoor pens, and

                  2) There is little or no culture here of consuming catfish as there is in the southern US. It's generally viewed with suspicion and distaste as a garbage fish, whereas in the US they're prized at fish-frys.

                  1. re: Haggisboy

                    I'm thinking it'd be economically questionable as well. Kinda tough trying to compete with the US when they've been doing it for over 50 years and annual production well in excess of 500 million pounds...

                    1. re: porker


                      Apart from the "fraudulent" aspect touched on by the Journal article, there are all sorts of fish who are called one name in the wild, and another on your plate, largely because folks would shy away from fish if sold under the actual name. For example: Sea Bass is really Patagonian Toothfish. A lot of the time stuff sold as the ubiquitous "Shark" is actually Dogfish (which is a species of shark), etc.

                      1. re: Haggisboy

                        orange roughy used to be called "slimehead" and scarlet snapper was "Malabar blood snapper"

                        1. re: Haggisboy

                          Chilean seabass is a marketing term for Patagonian toothfish, but there are other types of (real) seabass.