Think you’re getting a great deal on wild salmon? What you could be getting is swindled, suggests a report released Wednesday by the nonprofit watchdog group Oceana. Seafood fraud and mislabeling is rampant across the industry, says the report, and it occurs at every step of the process—from fishing boat or farm to grocery stores and restaurants.
To examine the prevalence of seafood fraud around the world, Oceana reviewed more than 200 previously published studies from 55 countries. Combined, these studies had tested more than 25,000 samples of seafood.
On average, about 20 percent of those samples were marketed as something other than what they really were. What’s more, 58 percent of the fake samples turned out to be species that could pose health risks because of parasites, environmental chemicals, higher allergy risks, or other potential dangers.
The results were consistent, too: Every study but one found evidence of seafood fraud at some point in the supply chain, whether it happened during landing, packaging, processing, import or export, distribution, wholesale, or retail.
In the United States, the rate of fraud was even higher than the global estimate: about 28 percent, according to a combination of studies published since 2014. Here, the fish most likely to be mislabeled were snapper, grouper, and salmon.
“Sometimes a lower-value fish is swapped in, like a farmed tilapia or Asian catfish,” says Beth Lowell, Oceana’s seafood fraud campaign director. (The report found that, globally, Asian catfish was substituted for 18 different types of higher-priced fish.) “Other times it’s a similar type of fish that may have a different conservation status or catch limits.” In 2015, for example, a Santa Monica sushi restaurant was caught selling endangered whale meat as fatty tuna.
Passing off farmed salmon as wild-caught is also very common in the United States, says Lowell. Along with the full report, Oceana published an interactive map of fraud findings around the country, and around the world, on its website.
Lowell says that seafood fraud can be difficult to catch at the consumer level—which is why Oceana and other organizations are fighting for better regulations and more accountability within the industry. But until those policies are adopted, she says, here are a few things you can do to reduce your chances of buying fraudulent fish:
Buy as close to the whole fish as possible
“The more times seafood changes hands or travels down a complex supply chain, the more opportunities there are for seafood fraud,” says Lowell. Plus, it’s easier to pass off parts of fish—like a fillet with the scales and head removed—as different species. “Buying a whole fish from the market and having them prepare it for you is one good way to know what you’re getting,” Lowell adds.
Ask questions at the counter or the table
Whether you’re in a restaurant or at the supermarket, make sure the people selling you seafood can tell you where and how it was caught. “If they can’t give you basic information about the product, you might want to get something else,” says Lowell.
Consider the price
“If you see wild Pacific salmon selling for $6.99 a pound, it might not actually be wild Pacific salmon,” says Lowell. “If the price seems too good to be true, a lot of times it is.”
Choose brands that trace their seafood
Plenty of restaurants—and even supermarket chains like Wegman’s and Whole Foods—require the seafood they sell to be responsibly sourced and traced from start to finish, and should be able to provide consumers with this information. When buying prepackaged frozen seafood, look for this information on the labels, as well. “Some brands use QR codes you can scan to see the path the fish has taken to get to your plate,” says Lowell.
Support the fight for better legislation
Some of these fraudulent cases occurred because the laws that do exist are not well enforced. Others are completely legal.
For example, 66 different species can be be sold as grouper in the United States, making it nearly impossible for people to know what they’re buying. “Though laws were not broken in these cases,” the report states, “vague labeling rules potentially cheat consumers, harm their health, or make them unwitting accessories to fishing or aquaculture practices that are illegal or harm the environment.”
In all circumstances, better legislation is needed, says Lowell. Earlier this year, a presidential task force proposed a rule that would require traceability for 13 “at-risk” types of seafood from when they’re caught or harvested until they reach the United States border. While that’s a good first step, says Lowell, this report shows that it’s still not enough.
“The fight against seafood fraud must include all seafood and extend from boat to plate,” she says. “It shouldn’t be this hard for consumers to know what fish they’re eating and have confidence with what’s on the label or on the menu.”
Video on this topic
Oilless Seafood Okro Soup (Healthy Nigerian Soup)
Learn how to make this health conscious okra soup. So quick and easy! Okra soup is tasty and what makes this even better is that it is guilt free. You would be ...
Healthy Seafood Recipe - fish recipe - dinner recipes - healthy recipe channel
This is a really simple healthy seafood recipe. You guys can make this really quick and it goes with rice, pasta, or you can eat it plain if you are doing a low carb ...
Healthy Fresh Seafood: Food for Thought Episode 4
Claire Thomas is determined to get her little sister to eat and enjoy fish by hiding it in a delicious taco. But first, she visits an aquarium and local market in Santa ...
Health Benefits of Seafood
Fareway's Registered Dietitian, Whitney Packebush, will tell you why seafood is something you will want to have in your diet.
San Diego Experts Talk Health Benefits Of Eating More Seafood
Many Americans are missing out on the nutritional benefits of fish and shellfish because they are falling short of weekly recommendations for seafood servings, ...
Healthy Chicken and Seafood Meal Prep
Welcome to HEALTHY Kitchen Instagram: http://instagram.com/healthykitchen08 Recipe Roasted Vegetables 3/4 Cups of butternut squash 3 Cups of sweet ...
Eat Seafood for Better Health
Hey, it's Dr. Jack here, The Paleo Cardiologist. I want to talk to you today about the importance of eating seafood. Seafood has been a staple of the human diet ...
Top 3 Best Fish vs. Worst Fish to Eat: Thomas DeLauer
Learn the 3 Safest fish to eat! I'll teach you more at http://www.ThomasDeLauer.com We are going to go over the top 3 fish to eat and the fish that you may want ...
Healthy Seafood To Eat
Healthy Seafood To Eat 00:00:13 Salmon 00:00:46 Trout 00:01:19 Oysters 00:02:04 Crab 00:02:49 Scallops 00:03:22 Tuna 00:04:07 Catfish 00:04:40 Shrimp.