A Blog by Jonathan Low


Aug 24, 2013

Something's Fishy: 59% of the Tuna Americans Eat Is Not Tuna

Food safety is an issue. In developed economies, people used to think that was a problem when you went to another part of world (some Americans still aren't so sure about Europe).

But the relentless focus on corporate profits and the related assault on regulation as an 'unnecessary' cost has created concerns about a much broader set of foods as to how - as well as the places from which - they are sourced.

Genetic modification, pollution, chemical additives and a more generous view about what constitutes acceptable spoilage has led to recalls, headlines - and heightened awareness.

Food labeling is directly tied to the safety issue. And as the following article explains, liberties taken with labeling may be causing both health and economic problems. Mislabeling, whether by mistake or on purpose, may be causing consumers to pay more than they should for fish-based food products that are not what they seem. And improperly labelled products may not be stored, prepared or handled appropriately - especially when those doing the cooking and eating think they have ordered something other than what they are served. JL

Christopher Mims reports in The Atlantic:

Nonprofit ocean-protection group Oceana genetically tested 1,215 samples from across the United States.
Nonprofit ocean protection group Oceana took 1,215 samples of fish from across the United States and genetically tested them in order to bring us the following astonishing facts:
  • 59% of the fish labeled "tuna" sold at restaurants and grocery stores in the US is not tuna.
  • Sushi restaurants were far more likely to mislabel their fish than grocery stores or other restaurants.

  • In Chicago, Austin, New York, and Washington DC, every single sushi restaurant sampled sold mislabeled tuna.
  • 84% of fish samples labeled "white tuna" were actually escolar, a fish that can cause prolonged, uncontrollable, oily anal leakage.
  • The only fish more likely to be misrepresented than tuna was snapper, which was mislabeled 87% of the time, and was in actuality any of six different species.
If you've ever wondered why the sushi in the display case is so affordable, given the dire state of the world's tuna supply, well, now you know


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