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Archive for the ‘Sushi and Health’ Category

New seafood calculator lets you know if you’re eating too much seafood

Think you’re eating too much seafood? Try this new calculator.

We all know that there are some species of seafood that we should consume in moderation. If you wonder if you are eating too much tuna, or eating too much fish, this new tool produced by the EU helps you plan your eating habits.

how much is 100 grams of salmon

The tool is very simple to use, with visual representations to make it easy to select your diet – or the diet you want to start. Although the presentation is not going to make anyone eat more sardines…

The calculator shows a list of pollutants in fish

While the calculator is not the most detailed in terms of nutrients, it excels in terms of identifying pollutants and harmful substances in seafood. Here’s an example of what someone who eats 200g of salmon, 100g tuna, and 180g of mussels would see.

pollutants in fish

On another page, each of the pollutants is defined and explained. You might be surprised to find out what is in your seafood! Check out the calculator yourself and see what you find.

One note: while we personally eat tuna in moderation, the calculator suggests that even those who pick the smallest amount possible of tuna (100g) switch to mackerel.

Who is this calculator funded by?

You always want to know the source of science. Are there any underlying motives behind the information presented? We took a look to find the source of this useful tool.

The calculator is funded by a grant from the EU as part of the ECsafeSEAFOOD under program FP7. It is a consortium of 18 partners from 10 countries with 10 goals centering around contaminants in seafood. The project is very interesting, and more research can be done on their official page.

The calculator does not show calories in sushi

The calculator is very sparse in details in terms of the planning a diet out for weight loss. If you’re looking for something much more specific in terms of calories, protein, fat, carbs and more, we have a great free resource on our calories in sushi page.

Shocking Seafood Fraud – Half of sushi in L.A. restaurants mislabelled

seafood fraud sushi

Our readers care about their own health, protecting our oceans, and getting what they pay for. These are three things that seafood fraud threatens. A recent study published by UCLA and Loyola Marymount University shows that the situation is more dire than we ever could have thought. While our tastebuds and eyes may be fooled, DNA analysis is much harder to trick. Roughly half of the sushi tested was mislabeled.

Halibut and red snapper are the two most fraudulently mislabeled fish. The researchers say that seafood fraud is not only constrained to restaurants, and that even purchasing fish from the grocery store can result in going home with a different species. When you look at the high prices that halibut commands, you can see how those engaging in fraudulent behavior are profiting immensely. Flounder is often replaced.

In the study, interestingly enough salmon and tuna were less often mislabeled. There are a few possible reasons for this. Is it more difficult to pass off other fish for salmon and tuna, because of the distinct flavors and colors? Or are these species more highly regulated? The Pacific fishing industry, for instance, is a highly regulated industry which is part of the Catch Certification Program.

It is a sad state of affairs when “almost always” getting what you pay for is in the upper echelon of reliability, but that is exactly where tuna is. While bluefin tuna was always exactly as ordered, yellowfin tuna was occasionally swapped for the at-risk bigeye tuna. Those of us who research ethical seafood choices before eating sushi are losing our autonomy of choice, swindled into dining on at-risk species. This shows an even darker side to sushi mislabeling. Where in some cases it is simply a matter of tricking customers to get a bigger profit, mislabeling at risk species is a way to get around environmental regulations.

One thing is clear. The program that we recently reported on, Seafood Import Monitoring Program is needed more now than ever before. People deserve to know what they are paying for. People deserve to be able to make ethical buying choices.

What is the solution to this problem? One solution would be to rely on both corporate responsibility which would allow consumers to respond with their wallets. While in most situations it is naive to rely on the well- being of corporations, the restaurant industry is one where consumers are very picky. A voluntary program where DNA testing is done on shipments, which in return would allow the restaurant to be certified as trustworthy, could sway the tide. Another option would be for more stringent government regulation, and increased programs like the Seafood Import Monitoring Program.

What do you think can be done about Seafood Mislabeling? We would love to hear your opinion in the comments below. Do you think you’ve ever been served mislabeled fish?

Keto Sushi – Sushi Without Rice

Keto Sushi – Sushi Without Rice

In the New Year, many people have chosen goals of becoming healthier. Sushi is healthy and delicious, with the added health benefit of being high in Omega-3 fatty acids. But can you eat sushi when you are on the keto diet?

The problem for keto dieters is the rice, which is high in carbs. What sort of options are there for sushi without rice?

Try asking your sushi chef if they can create sushi rolls without rice

If you are lucky and you have a friendly itamae (who is particularly creative), you can try asking for sushi rolls without rice. Quick tip: restaurants are more likely to be accommodating to requests during slower nights, not when the restaurant is jam packed.

Because rice is inexpensive, you may be charged more for rolls that substitute rice for other ingredients, such as extra avocado. Make sure to ask if there are any additional charges. As well, you need to be quite wary when eating these rolls from a mess standpoint. Often, the sushi chef will have less experience creating rolls without rice. Combined with the fact that rice is an essential part of keeping the roll together, you need to take care when eating this style of sushi so that it does not end up on your shirt.

Naruto rolls are a good option for sushi on a keto diet

What is a “Naturo Roll?” Ordering a “Naruto Style” roll means that instead of rice, your roll is wrapped in very thinly sliced cucumber. Check the menu for this style of roll, and if you cannot find it, try asking your waiter if it is a possibility.

Keto Sushi using cauliflower rice

Some adventurous sushi chefs have experimented with substitutes for carbohydrate rich rice in sushi. One of the closest options in terms of texture is cauliflower rice. You probably will not find cauliflower rice in a restaurant. This is solely for those who are deciding to make their own sushi!

To make cauliflower rice, you need to coarsely chop a head of cauliflower and blend it into a food processor. Careful – over blending will create more of a paste than anything resembling rice!

Once the cauliflower resembles the consistency of rice, you can put it into a microwave for around 3 minutes on high with a little bit of olive oil to cook it. Make sure it is tightly wrapped in microwave safe cling wrap. Season with a bit of salt before using it to make your keto sushi rolls. To help make the rice sticky, add a tablespoon of rice wine vinegar.

Cauliflower rice is not going be nearly as good as authentic sushi rice for creating rolls, and will be more difficult to create something that stays together. However, if you truly cannot eat carbs, necessity is the mother of invention!

Sashimi is the best sushi option for keto diets

Sashimi is highly nutritious and delicious. You can read full nutritional information on sashimi, and reading through the chart shows that many sashimi options have between 0-1 gram of carbs per portion. Be careful of ordering imitation crab, as it is one of the highest in carbs. If you are going for sashimi, you need to go for the real deal.

Which brings us to the one con of sashimi. It is generally more expensive than other sushi options. If you want to eat sashimi cheaper than going out to a restaurant, you need to make it at home. This can be difficult for those who do not live by the ocean. Luckily, Catalina OP offers sushi grade sashimi online.

Be careful of “hidden carbs” in sushi

When you are ordering sushi with a keto diet in mind, you might not realize some unexpected sources of carbs. One of these is unagi sauce. Just an ounce can have 14 grams of carbs.

Vegan Sushi

Vegan sushi is 100% delicious

Vegan sushi is the perfect option for health conscious and environmentally aware sushi lovers who want to enjoy a meal without using animals in any way. In case you’re wondering, sushi is actually the word for food prepared with vinegared rice! It doesn’t actually mean “raw fish” at all.

Sushi is such a healthy, fast option that makes you feel full of energy and vegan options can provide the same fantastic feeling after a perfect meal. While many of the most popular sushi rolls include raw fish, vegan options are perfectly feasible.

When you head to your favorite sushi restaurant, you’ll find that there are many vegan options. This can include fresh avocado rolls, kappamaki rolls (with cucumber), and even some more adventurous options with substitutes fish for mock soy options or even uses vegetables that are close in texture to the seafood that would normally be in the roll! If you’re lucky, you will find rolls based around shiitake mushrooms as well as yam tempura rolls. Quick tip: make sure to ask that the yam tempura rolls are a vegan option before ordering, batter ingredients can vary.

Let’s look at some of the delicious ways that creative chefs have developed vegan sushi rolls!

Vegan Tomato Sushi – Fresh and Co


This New York chain is tailored to seasonal and environmentally conscious fares. They are not a fully vegan restaurant, but have some great vegan options. One of these options was to replace tuna with tomato in their dishes. This example isn’t a sushi roll, but is actually a sushi wrap! It’s sort of like a sushi buritto. Unfortunately, it is only seasonal, but it’s a great example of what you can achieve with a little imagination. This wrap combines collard greens, hijiki, cucumber, avocado, brown sushi rice, cilantro, and wasabi. Unlike with sushi rolls that are in smaller pieces, you do not have to worry about the brown sushi rice not sticking together properly!

Vegan Eggplant Sushi


Some vegetables are so substantial and flavourful that they simply don’t need the addition of any sort of seafood to shine. Eggplant is one of those veggies that are bursting with so much flavor that they work perfectly as the main attraction in a sushi roll. Adding avocado is a great way to experiment with textures and tastes and make your roll even more filling! Mouth watering.

Vegan Carrot Rolls


This is another example of what a little imagination can bring to the table (literally). If you want a roll that has fresh, delicate flavours, using thin slice carrots gives you a crunch that you wouldn’t expect from sushi. You can choose to use carrots that are fresh and raw if you prefer the crunch, or steam them lightly in order to have a softer texture. These feel less substantial that rolls made with eggplant or tomato.

The sky is the limit with vegan sushi roll ideas

You can design and experiment with vegan sushi rolls with any of your favorite vegetables. Veggies pair so perfectly with sushi rice, soy sauce, wasabi and nori. Have you ever thought of trying avocado nigiri? Wonderful!

Here are some quick ideas when it comes to vegan sushi. Consider centering a roll around thinly sliced bell peppers, green onions, or sweet potatoes! The great thing about vegan sushi is that you do not have to worry about preparing raw fish. This alleviates the major health concerns of preparing sushi as an amateur and can be a more relaxing experience for preparing sushi at home.

And don’t forget, without having to buy sushi grade seafood, vegan sushi is much cheaper and perfect for beginners!

Is there carbon monoxide in your sushi? US retailers continue to use a shocking practice banned internationally

Tuna carbon monoxideI recently read an article in the news which said that sushi grade tuna might be being treated with carbon monoxide in order to give it a bright, fresh red color. I instantly did a quick search online, and the first information on the US government Center for Disease Control and Prevention said this: “Carbon Monoxide, or CO, is an odorless, colorless gas that can kill you”.

Is it possible that sushi vendors are using a deadly substance in order to appeal to the eyes of consumers? I could not believe it, so I researched it further.

Apparently, carbon monoxide prevents oxidation in tuna. That means that instead of going brown, fish stays bright red and fresh looking. While carbon monoxide poisoning in large amounts can and does kill hundreds every year, the FDA has ruled that treating fish and meat with the preservative is “GRAS”, or “Generally Recognized as Safe”.

Why are seafood vendors using carbon monoxide? When tuna is flash frozen, not all of the microbes are killed. The process is simply not cold enough. Because of this, tuna will go brown quite quickly. Seafood dealers found that they could preserve the cherry red coloring of the fish, making it more appealing to consumers. When your competitors are able to offer older tuna which looks as if it was just hauled out of the ocean, it becomes difficult to compete unless you join standard industry practices of hiding signs of decay with preservatives.

Even though it has been considered safe by the FDA, there are restrictions. Tuna that has been treated with the chemical additive of carbon monoxide must have the information clearly stated on its label. It cannot be marketed or branded as fresh frozen, because carbon monoxide is a preservative.

But can you trust the labels? While the FDA has required tuna vendors to clearly indicate the existence of carbon monoxide as a preservative, they have allowed at least two different meat vendors to use the exact same process – without labeling their product in any way. If the meat industry can get away with selling carbon monoxide treated products, I would not be surprised if things could change for seafood.

While carbon monoxide as a preservative is sanctioned by the US government, international response is different. In 2003 the European Union unilaterally banned the use of carbon monoxide in both meat and seafood. Their reasoning? The bright red, fresh looking coloring that carbon monoxide gives can hide harmful growth of bacteria. China, which is not known for consumer protections has also banned the use of carbon monoxide in food products. It should also come as no surprise that Japan, the sushi capital of the world, does not allow the practice.

When you see a beautiful, bright red packaged tuna, check the ingredients. If tuna has partially decomposed, adding tasteless carbon monoxide smoke can hide the fact that the fish is no longer fresh. If you are lucky, it will only be the taste that is ruined. Sushi, in its essence, depends on simplicity. If the main ingredient that the sushi roll revolves around looks beautiful but tastes fishy, the experience suffers.

Personally, I am going to be reading labels carefully. When I eat sushi, I want to feel healthy and revitalized. Carbon monoxide is just not an ingredient I am comfortable putting in my body, even if the FDA rules it as “generally considered safe”.

When you eat sushi, you are taking a slight risk. The simple fact that you are eating raw food carries with it a higher risk because there is no cooking process to kill harmful bacteria. It is incredibly important that you use good quality, fresh ingredients. My advice? When it comes to sushi, skip the monoxide. Consumers should be allowed to pick their food using their eyes without having to worry that signs of old, decaying fish have been hiding with chemical preservatives.

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Sushi and Salmonella – Do you need to be worried?

slicing sushiWhen we think of sushi, we think of a healthy and delicious meal. We often forget that while eating sushi is in general safe, there is always an elevated risk to consuming a raw product. Even with government regulations, sometimes bacteria and tainted fish can enter the country, and only cooking food completely can render it safe. In March 2012, 425 people were infected with Salmonella in the US, the vast majority from consuming spicy tuna rolls. The culprit was a shipment of frozen raw yellowfin from India. The FDA concluded that it was likely that the Salmonella Bareilly was caused by inadequate sanitary controls after harvest, during processing and packaging. The sushi was distributed mainly in 4 grocery stores.

Salmonella affects over a million Americans every year, with an estimated 19,000 hospitalizations and 380 deaths. Illnesses can last 4 to 7 days and in severe cases demand hospitalization. A recent case of Salmonella linked with sushi affected an estimated 62 people in 11 states, linked to raw fish imported through the Osamu Corporation from Indonesia. Once again, raw tuna was the culprit, sending 11 people to the hospital with severe symptoms. The bulk of the sushi was bought at workplace cafeterias and grocery stores.

Does this mean that grocery store sushi is less safe than in a restaurant? While 2 incidents is perhaps not enough to point the finger at groceries stores, cafeterias, and cheaper sushi options, I would advise caution with buying sushi that has been sitting out in the open. When you are putting yourself at risk, you need to be able to trust the restaurant or store that you are buying sushi from.

Can freezing the fish make it safe? One method used to make sushi safer is the process of deep freezing. New York has implemented rules requiring raw fish to be frozen in order to kill parasites. In fact, fish is often flash frozen in freezers directly on the vessels which catch them for transportation and to reduce parasites such as worms which can live in tuna and be harmful to humans. While deep freezing is useful against parasites, it can only slow, not stop, bacteria like salmonella. Only the cooking process can eliminate salmonella and other food born illnesses.

What is the bottom line? There are always going to be risks associated with eating raw food. If you are pregnant or have a weakened immune system, you should not consider eating sushi or sashimi. If you’re a healthy adult who does not have other risk factors, then you need to make the choice for yourself. One strategy for reducing risk is to use the FDA’s website at to keep yourself appraised of any recent outbreaks of salmonella poisoning and other illnesses associated with eating sushi. And while I can’t tell you what to do – make sure you trust where you are getting your sushi from.

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FDA and EPA update on seafood consumption

maki sushiSushi is a healthy food which offers great nutritional benefits. However, the FDA has in the past warned about consumption of large, predatory fish which have a higher level of mercury and other contaminants. In an update press release, the FDA has advised in a draft form that pregnant and breastfeeding women, those who are hoping to become pregnant, and young children may need to increase their increase their seafood intake, as long as the fish consumed are low in mercury and are properly cooked. The FDA and EPA have counselled in the past to avoid certain types of seafood and have even recommended limits to consumption, but this is the first time that they are recommending a minimum amount of seafood for new parents, expectant mothers, pregnant women, and small children. In part because of fears over health risks, these groups have had limited seafood consumption, below the levels advised by the FDA to the general public. While this is great news for seafood lovers, it must be advised that the FDA is still cautioning pregnant women and young children to avoid raw fish. This is because pregnant women and young children “often lack strong immune systems and are more at risk for foodborne illnesses.”

The draft, titled “Fish: what pregnant women and parents should know”, will, when finalized, replace the former advice, issued in 2004. The key message of the draft, which can be found at the FDA page is as follows, “Eat 8 to 12 ounces of a variety of fish each week from choices that are lower in mercury. The nutritional value of fish is important during growth and development before birth, in early infancy for breastfed infants, and in childhood.”

Seafood is of great health benefit in that it can contribute to a full and balanced nutritional profile, which is exactly what mothers and their young children need. But that does not mean that all seafood is safe. Pregnant and breastfeeding women, along with persons who are at higher risk for contaminants such as those with a weakened immune system need to exercise caution in choosing the right fish. At this point, the FDA is still advising that certain types of fish be avoided: tilefish, shark, swordfish, king mackerel, and white tuna, although tuna is acceptable in moderation. With the exception of tilefish, these are all large, predatory fish at the top of the food chains and who accumulate a much higher quantity of mercury than smaller species of seafood, such as salmon, shrimp, cod, and other popular choices. While other seafood will give nutritional and developmental benefits, caution must be exercised with freshwater fish, which even cooked can be problematic depending on fish advisories. Remember, due to the risk of parasites in freshwater fish, freshwater fish should never be used for sushi.

Keep in mind, at this point this information is all in draft form, and the FDA will be seeking public consultation before their final advice. As it stands, the current advice is that “women who are pregnant or breastfeeding consume at least 8 and up to 12 ounces of a variety of seafood per week, from choices lower in methyl mercury.” For seafood lovers, that’s great news. For sushi lovers, the rule remains the same: if you are in an at risk group, avoid raw fish. If you would like more information on health risks of seafood, you can check out the draft updated advice at their webpage or, for more sushi related information, our guide to the potential health risks of sushi at our ‘Sushi and Health’ page.

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Changes in California Retail Food Code impact sushi chefs

salmonIn order to provide a more sanitary environment, California has passed new legislation to require that all culinary workers wear gloves while handling food. Among the most vocal critics of the law are bartenders, who find gloves to be inconveniencing especially during peak hours, and sushi chefs who find that the quality of their sushi declines with the barrier between their hands and the ingredients.

Sushi is unlike other foods in the way that making expert level sushi is an extremely and directly tactile process. Expert sushi chefs need to have direct contact with the sushi, feeling with their hands the exact properties of rice, nori (seaweed) and seafood. While to the vast majority of sushi consumers there will be no noticeable difference between sushi made by bare hands and those by chefs with gloves, the sushi chefs themselves and true lovers of sushi can tell that they are not quite reaching the perfection that they need to take sushi from food to art form. If you know any serious sushi chefs, you know that they seek to perfect their craft, and gloves are one more obstacle preventing them from creating the dishes they envision.

The mentality of a sushi chef is one of exacting standards, and loose fitting gloves impede them from reaching their potential. Some sushi chefs have over 30 years perfecting their art, and their hands have decades of experience knowing the perfect, exact movements to turn sushi into art. While it might not seem like a big deal to the average person, the pursuit of perfection inherent to any serious sushi chef brings understandable criticism of the law.

For the first six months of the new law, offenders will only be given a verbal warning. But after that, they could be found in violation of health code laws, which has huge ramifications for restaurant owners. There is a possibility for exemption to the laws, which restaurants can apply for. For fine dining restaurants, it would be more feasible to be granted an exception, and California sushi lovers can only hope that their favorite restaurant is able to be exempt from the laws.

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Low Calorie Sushi Options

cucumber rollSushi is a godsend for anyone trying to keep within calorie budgets and may be tired of eating boring, unsatisfying foods. While processed foods tend to sacrifice flavor in their low-calorie versions, low calorie sushi options are just as delicious (and some would argue even more delicious) than high calorie options. If you have read “The Difference between authentic Japanese sushi and sushi around the world” you will notice a trend towards simplicity in Japanese sushi, and a good rule of thumb is this: the simpler the sushi roll, the lower the calorie count. Please note that calorie counts will depend on the restaurant and size of the roll.

The sushi experience is great for anyone on a diet. The ambiance of a restaurant, the slow savoring of flavors and the use of chopsticks forces you to enjoy your food, letting your body realize when it is satisfied and helping to prevent overeating. Instead of having your food come out all at once, you can order as you finish rolls and sushi items, leaving with the perfect level of satisfaction without being stuffed.

The lowest calorie sushi rolls are vegetarian. A 6 piece cucumber roll weighs in at a measly 136 calories, and an avocado roll isn’t much more with 140 calories while serving as a great source of healthy fats. While delicious, vegetarian rolls may be less satisfying than their protein heavy fish counterparts. A simple tuna roll comes in at 184 calories, and a salmon roll contains approximately 168.

The simplest sushi is sashimi, or raw fish without any rice. You would think that because sashimi skips the rice, you would end up with fewer calories per piece. However, this is untrue because rice is lower in calories than some kinds of fresh fish, so you are a getting a higher calorie count but also a more filling meal. Sake (salmon) and Maguro (Tuna) sashimi will be from 40-50 calories per piece, and an order of sashimi may include 3 pieces, with some restaurants serving giant pieces that end up well above those calorie estimates. Sashimi tends to be denser in calories, as it is protein heavy fish, but also much more filling than rolls. This means that it is a good choice for a filling addition to a low-calorie meal, but it may not necessarily the best low calorie option in itself.

If you are like me, you aren’t going to be ordering only simple rolls when you go out to sushi. Readers will be pleased to know that the most popular sushi roll, the California roll, contains 255 calories. Not bad! The biggest pitfall of those who view sushi as healthy is tempura. It is easy to think you are eating healthy when in fact tempura is deep fried batter. A shrimp tempura roll comes in at 508 calories – almost as much as a Big Mac! Another western take on sushi is the Philadelphia roll, which includes smoked salmon, cucumber, and, you guessed it, cream cheese. This is another example of taking what was traditionally a healthy, simple fare and turning it into a tasty but high calorie treat. Depending on the amount of cream cheese used, a Philly roll can be anywhere from 400-500 calories.

Calorie conscious sushi eaters don’t need to avoid all of the more complex western rolls. However, like anything, moderation is the key. The 508 calories in a shrimp tempura roll is approximately equivalent to 3 and a half cucumber rolls! When I go for sushi, I aim for a healthy balance of simplicity and flavor. A cucumber roll, Sake roll, California roll and a few pieces of sashimi is enough to satisfy me, meaning I get a full meal that is less than 700 calories. Those with smaller appetites can, if they chose low calorie sushi items, enjoy a full dinner well within the 500 calorie range. If you are active like me, the high protein, low calorie nature of sushi is a great way to keep fit!

If you want more information on calories and sushi to help you plan out your meal, please feel free to view our “calories in sushi” page

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Sushi – Are you getting what you are paying for?

When you are buying seafood, you want to know you are getting exactly what you pay for. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case. Oceana, the largest international ocean conservation group, recently released a study on the mislabeling of seafood in New York.

Seafood lovers, beware. The study showed that a shocking 39% of products they purchased were mislabeled as a higher priced fish. Not once did they find evidence of a higher priced fish being sold for lower, which erases any doubt that these were all honest mistakes.

After reading the study, I was dismayed to see that the mislabeling goes beyond simply getting a lower grade fish. In some cases, Escolar was substituted for White Tuna, and Tilefish was substituted for Grouper and Halibut. What does this mean for consumers? Well, for those who are avoiding mercury, Tilefish is a danger, with a mercury content so high that the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has actually officially warned pregnant women, nursing mothers, and small children to stay away from. Escolar is also troublesome, as it has been linked to causing gastrointestinal problems when consumed in large quantities. A shocking 94% of fish sold as “white tuna” was actually Escolar.

It gets worse. 39% percent sounds high, but compared to Boston and Los Angeles, New York is a city of saints. Los Angeles had over half of seafood mislabeled, with a 55% rate. Boston trailed close behind, missing out on the dubious honor of the city with the most seafood mislabeling with a total of 48%.

If you are pregnant, nursing, or have small children, I would advise being very careful with purchasing white tuna. One small hopeful point from the study is that mislabeling is far more widespread in small markets compared to larger chains. I can only wonder, how are people allowed to get away with this?

Info taken from “Widespread Seafood Fraud Found In New York City“, published December 11, 2012 by

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