Seafood mislabeling a serious problem
According to an April 2012 report by Oceana, researchers in 2011 and 2012 collected and tested 119 seafood samples from grocery stores, restaurants and sushi bars. The report found that mislabeling of seafood was common, including: 65 of the 119 samples (55 percent) were mislabeled, according to federal guidelines: every fish sold under the "snapper" label (34 of 34) were mislabeled according to federal guidelines; half the mislabeled snapper was in fact Pacific rockfish. The rest were everything from farmed tilapia to Pollock; nearly nine out of ten sushi samples (87 percent) were mislabeled with grocery stores most likely to carry the wrong brand; eight out of nine sushi samples labeled as "white tuna" were actually escolar, a snake mackerel species health warning for its "purgative" effects.
Is it Pollock or an imposter?
By location, the Oceana study found that 31 percent of the seafood it collected around Miami and Fort Lauderdale and 55 percent from Los Angeles and Orange County to be mislabeled.
"It is unacceptable that proven fraud is occurring on such a widespread basis," wrote Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-CA, to U.S. Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Margaret Hamburg. "Seafood fraud is not only deceptive marketing, but it can also pose serious health concerns, particularly for pregnant women seeking to limit exposure to heavy metals or individuals with serious allergies to certain types of fish."
Imports are currently the source of 86 percent of seafood consumed in the U.S. Boxer notes that the Government Accountability Office (GAO) in 2009 found that only two percent of imported fish are inspected by FDA, and only a scant 0.01 percent are checked for seafood mislabeling.