Food fraud hits the fishing industry

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When you buy fish at the grocery store, restaurant or fish market, how can you be sure you’re getting what you pay for?

Consumer Reports found that 22% of all fish they tested in three states was mislabeled or otherwise misidentified. One hundred ninety pieces of seafood were DNA tested in all by two independent laboratories as part of the study.

There are really two levels of danger here, one more problematic than the other.

First, mislabeling seafood simply means that when you go to buy it, you’ll probably pay too much for the fish you’ll get, thinking it’s something fancier than what it really is.

But on a second and deeper level, the mislabeling is problematic especially for women who are pregnant because it might cause them to inadvertently eat fish that have higher levels of mercury. (I don’t want to suggest that pregnant women shouldn’t eat fish; my scientific credentials are nil and that would be irresponsible on my part.)

The FDA is aware of the mislabeling as an ongoing problem, according to an article I read in USA Today. Their response has been to supply six laboratories with DNA testing equipment for food testing that’s slated to begin next year. But the main thing they’re looking for is food safety, not mislabeling or food fraud.

Which bring me to my dilemma: Normally, I hate to tell you about a problem without a ready solution. But in this case, I think it’s important just to make you alert and aware.



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