One in three fish mislabeled nationally

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by KING 5 News

KING5.com

Posted on February 21, 2013 at 2:20 PM

Updated Thursday, Feb 21 at 6:36 PM

A study conducted by Oceana from 2010 to 2012 uncovered high levels of seafood fraud, with one in three seafood samples nationwide mislabeled.

The good news is that Seattle joined Boston in ranking lowest for mislabeled samples, at 18 percent.

Based on the study, Seattle residents should feel confident in purchasing salmon. All salmon samples labeled king or coho were accurate.

However, DNA testing showed that every snapper sample taken in Seattle was actually a different fish.

Local cookbook author Kim O'Donnel encourages people here in Seattle to think about the food they're purchasing. She said it's just as important to know where your fish comes from as it is to know the origin of your vegetables, meat, or dairy products.

“This whole thing forces us to re-think how we buy our fish -- and shop local, rather than through companies with massive distribution networks/anonymous seafood counters,” said O'Donnel.

Overall, the study discovered snapper was mislabeled nationally 87 percent of the time. Tuna was also commonly mislabeled, in over half the national samples.

Under U.S. Food and Drug Administration guidelines, some labeling changes are allowed. However, the mislabeling found during testing by Oceana did not follow these guidelines.

The study looked only at retail outlets, specifically grocery stores, restaurants and sushi venues. Of those, grocery stores labels were most accurate with less than one in five incorrectly labeled fish.

Grocery stores in Seattle only had incorrect labels nine percent of the time. Sushi venues had the most cases of mislabeling, with 55 percent of fish samples incorrectly labeled.

The places with the most mislabeling: 

  1. Southern California - 52%
  2. Austin/Houston - 49%
  3. New York City - 39%
  4. Northern California, Miami (tied) - 38%
  5. Denver - 36%

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