OK – I’ll admit – I am not a big fan of Seafood unless it has a shell around it.  When I was on a Low Fat diet years ago, I would order a Salad with a 3 oz can of Tuna in water dumped on top,  I also ate a lot of Tuna Fish salad mixed with low-fat french dressing instead of Mayo – usually Albacore – but – never really liked it.

Now – mainly Salmon – and almost always Alaskan – wild caught.  I will eat that in a number of different forms from smoked to broiled to salmon burgers to salmon salad mixed with Mayo.

Sushi is not on my list – since it is wrapped in Rice.  There is one place in town that makes it wrapped in long thin strips of Cucumber.  Not bad – not really worth the price.

I stumbled upon this Oceana Study.  It details the overwhelming amount of mislabeling of various fish in Grocery stores, Restaurants, and Sushi.  The Average: > 33%.  

Here is the summary:

SUMMARY: Oceana’s study is the largest survey of seafood fraud publically released in the U.S. to date, to the best of our knowledge. This study did not attempt to be a representative survey of misbranding of all seafood available or routinely consumed by Americans in each retail sector or location. Rather, our samples included a mix of many types of fish, some of which were previously identified as mislabeled in other studies, as well as local favorites and a random assortment of fish selected by our supporters from many different regions and retail venues. Still, the overall mislabeling rate of one-third is in line with what other broad market surveys in North America have found in the past.61 Despite frequent coverage in the press and federal and state enforcement responses, seafood fraud remains a persistent problem in the U.S. Particularly troubling is the consistently high levels of mislabeling for certain types of fish across all regions, like snapper, as well as the public health implications for some fish substitutions, such as escolar for white tuna.

While this study revealed that no retail outlet type is immune to seafood fraud, it did clearly identify which types were the worst (sushi venues) and best (grocery stores) in honestly labeling seafood according to federal guidelines, with these patterns being repeated everywhere we sampled in sufficient numbers. The stricter labeling requirements for seafood sold in large grocery stores clearly explains this trend. Even so, consumers should be aware that the labels for fresh or previously frozen seafood displayed on ice sometimes did not match what was on the receipt or on display elsewhere in the store. In addition, although grocery stores fared the best, the finding that nearly one in five grocery samples was still mislabeled points to a clear problem in need of correction.

For sushi venues, we are aware that there are some Japanese-to-English translation concerns which may explain some of the high levels of mislabeling uncovered in this study. However, sushi is prevalent, popular and profitable in so many areas of the country that consistent, legal names must be uniformly adopted in the U.S. In addition, the helpful efforts of chefs demanding traceability62 for the seafood they serve in their restaurants lets their suppliers know they care about when, where and how their fish products reached their kitchens.

HEALTH: Perhaps most troubling are the health concerns seafood fraud poses for consumers, as several examples from this study demonstrate. The fraudulent substitution of escolar for white tuna can have immediate and serious digestive effects for some people who eat more than a few ounces, which is why the FDA advises against the sale of this species, and other countries have banned it outright. But how would anyone know they are eating escolar when up to 84 percent of it is fraudulently mislabeled as white tuna?

Maybe – just maybe – I’m doing the right thing by limiting myself to wild caught Alaskan Salmon.  Although there was mislabeling even with this fish – it was significantly less than most others.

Never has the the saying – Buyer Beware – been more true than when you walk into a Sushi Restaurant.

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