Seafood Fraud: Your tuna is probably escolar, a toxic fish that makes you poop
Budget cuts have reduced the FDA's ability to inspect fish imports. Less than 2% get inspected.
Believe it or not, seafood fraud happens all the time. Recent DNA studies have revealed that the mislabeling of seafood in some cases may occur as much as 25-70% of the time. This threatens human health, costs us economically, and undermines conservation efforts.
Our partner Oceana has uncovered widespread mislabeling with their Seafood Fraud project: nearly one in five fish fillets sampled in Boston-area supermarkets, a third of seafood samples in Florida, and more than half of the seafood sampled in the Los Angeles area.
In LA, all 34 samples with “snapper” on the label were in fact something else, and sushi was more frequently mislabeled than other fish – nearly 90% of the time.
Studies have even shown that even some fish labeled as “certified sustainable” aren’t immune to fraud.
Cheap or less popular species are often sold under the pretense that they are expensive and desired ones: farmed salmon is sold as wild salmon. Mako shark is sold as swordfish. White sea bass is sold as Chilean seabass. The list goes on.
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Of nine sushi samples labeled “white tuna” in the LA study mentioned above, eight of them were found to be escolar, which contains a compound that can cause indigestion and other negative symptoms.