Non-profit finds one third of seafood sold is mislabeled

Friday, February 22, 2013 - 8:21pm

Chances are the fish you buy at the market or order in a restaurant may not be the fish you think. A non-profit group finds one third of seafood sold in the U.S. is not what it's billed to be.

Sonny Ceniceros has worked with Landry's for 10 years and he's not surprised.

"These days the consumption of seafood is expanding expend and in those kinds of environments of you're not careful, it leaves the door open for fraudulent packaging or fraudulent points of origin," said Ceniceros.

From 2010 to 2012, non-profit Oceana conducted one of the largest seafood fraud investigations. It tested DNA samples and found, snapper was mislabeled 87 percent of the time. Mislabeling is a concern for many because it's a public health risk.

"Some of the concerns with the mislabeling have been some of the health impacts we found high mercury fish swapped out for lower mercury fish,” said

Oceana said it’s unclear why fish is mislabeled but price may have a lot to do with it.

"Typically better quality, sound product probably going to cost you a little bit more," said Ceniceros.

Ceniceros said there are two key things to make sure you're eating the right thing.

"The two key things right now that people look for is point of origin so that you know where the fish or the seafood is coming from," said Ceniceros. "Dealing with people that you know are reputable companies is your best bet."

He said if you're in a store or restaurant, just ask.

"If your server doesn't know, certainly the chef in the kitchen or the manager should know. And if they don't know on the spot, it's as easy as going to an invoice or just going to a box," said Ceniceros.

Also, Oceana said you can check the price. If it's too good to be true, it probably is. They said think about buying the whole fish, which makes it more difficult to swap one species for another.

Oceana said although more than 90 percent of the seafood Americans eat is imported, less than 1 percent is inspected by the government--specifically for fraud.

The FDA said it screens all seafood electronically and some is physically checked depending on potential risks. They're also improving their system.

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