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Study Finds One In Five Pieces Of US Seafood Could Be Mislabeled

John Minchillo / AP
 

John Minchillo / AP

Order lobster at a restaurant or pick up salmon at the store and you expect it to be just that. But that's not always the case.

Around one in five fish are mislabeled or sold as something different. That's according to a new study of 250 locations in 24 states by the conservation group Oceana.

"Bottom line it's, you know, cheating the consumer when they're paying more for something than what they're actually getting. And it hurts everybody up the supply chain,” said Oceana Senior Scientist Kimberly Warner.

She says fish was commonly mislabeled as sea bass in Southern California and nationally when it actually was toothfish, giant perch or Nile Tilapia. Flounder was also labeled as halibut, and at least one venue sold shrimp as lobster.

Around 90 percent of seafood is imported into the U.S., but Warner says most isn't tracked once it enters the country. She says restaurants and small markets more often mislabeled seafood.

"Consumers could suffer from health risks when their seafood is not being properly monitored because they are thinking it’s one type of fish and its actually another and they are missing that health screening,” Warner added.

Oceana would like the federal government to expand a traceability program that began last year to include more types of fish through the entire supply chain. At the moment the program stops tracking fish when sold domestically and is limited to seafood commonly mislabeled as abalone, shrimp, tuna and others.

In 2016 the group found similar seafood fraud results on a global scale and in 2018 New York State found high rates for seafood fraud in supermarkets.

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