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 Oceana.org.

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