Almost 40 percent of seafood in NYC is mislabeled, according to a new report from international advocacy group Oceana. DNA testing of 142 seafood samples from 81 retail outlets, including grocery stores, restaurants and sushi venues, confirmed that 56 samples were mislabeled according to U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) guidelines.

Oceana’s investigation in the New York City-area, including Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens and other surrounding towns, targeted species with regional significance like cod as well as those that were found to be mislabeled in previous studies such as red snapper, white tuna and wild salmon.

Among the report’s key findings:
  • 58 percent of the retail outlets sold mislabeled fish (three in five).
  • Small markets had much higher fraud (40 percent) than national chain grocery stores (12 percent).
  • All 16 sushi venues tested sold mislabeled fish.
  • Tilefish, on the FDA’s do-not-eat list because of its high mercury content, was substituted for red snapper and halibut in one small market.
  • 94 percent of the “white tuna” was not tuna at all, but escolar, a snake mackerel that has a toxin with purgative effects for people who eat more than a small amount of the fish.
  • Thirteen different types of fish were sold as “red snapper,” including tilapia, white bass, goldbanded jobfish, tilefish, porgy/seabream, ocean perch and other less valuable snappers.

Oceana and others also recently uncovered shocking levels of seafood mislabeling in the Boston (48 percent), Los Angeles (55 percent) and Miami (31 percent) areas. Oceana is now urging Congress to pass the Safety in Fraud and Enforcement for Seafood (SAFE Seafood) Act, H.R. 6200, which would require full traceability for all seafood sold in the U.S. The bill, introduced this summer by Reps. Edward Markey (D-Mass.), Barney Frank (D-Mass.) and Walter Jones (R-N.C.), will likely be reintroduced next year and would take actions to stop seafood fraud that hurts our oceans, our wallets and our health.

To read Oceana’s new report, please visit www.oceana.org/nycfraudreport.
 


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    Jessie States is the industry research expert at Meeting Professionals International. She's also an award-winning writer specializing in the topics of business, meetings and travel. She has earned honors from Suburban Newspapers of America, the Texas Press Association, APEX and the American Society of Business Publication Editors. Her writing has appeared in The Meeting ProfessionalOne+, the Texas Property Journal and Heart & Soul magazine.