A new report from Oceana found that 20% of more than 25,000 samples of seafood tested in 55 countries worldwide had been deceptively mislabeled. And it’s happening in every sector of the supply chain — including at restaurants.
Here in the United States, Oceana said studies released since 2014 found an average fraud rate of 28%.
What’s behind the seafood fraud? Money, of course. In the majority of cases, the mislabeled fish was merely a cheap imitation of pricier types of seafood.
Asian catfish, hake and escolar were the most commonly substituted types of fish around the world. For example, the report found Asian catfish was sold as 18 different types of higher-value fish, from flounder to red snapper.
Earlier this year, “Real Food/Fake Food” author Larry Olmsted said red snapper is one of the three restaurant items you should never order because it’s so commonly faked.
How to avoid getting ripped off
To avoid getting ripped off, Olmsted told Eater.com that he recommends eating at places that display the fish whole, or you can buy cheaper types of fish that are more likely to be the real thing.
But this problem isn’t just affecting your wallet. According to the Oceana report, 58% of the samples that were substituted for other seafood could pose a health risk to consumers and possibly make them sick.
Oceana is calling on the U.S. government to enact new regulations to ensure that all seafood sold is safe, legally caught and honestly labeled.