Thursday, February 21, 2013

One Third of People Don't Know What They're Eating

One-third of seafood mislabeled, study finds
If you order tuna at a D.C. restaurant, chances are half the time you’ll be getting another, less expensive fish in its place. But those odds are better than if you had wanted snapper. Testers nationwide found that 87 percent of the time, restaurants and grocery stores were selling something else under that label.
That's because there are a lot of people who think snapper is good, but can't tell it from more ordinary, cheaper fish when cooked the same way.
As much as one-third of seafood sold in restaurants and groceries is fraudulently labeled, according to a report the advocacy group Oceana released Thursday. The group sampled 674 retail outlets in the District and 20 states between 2010 and 2012, often finding cheaper, farmed fish being sold in place of wild-caught ones.
I would venture to guess that it's probably not the restaurants and groceries making the substitutions, in most cases they wouldn't know what fish it was if it jumped up and bit them, let alone came packed in box of nice white fillets.
Ninety-five percent of the sushi restaurants, 52 percent of other restaurants and 27 percent of grocery stores surveyed sold mis­labeled seafood. 
I have to laugh at the sushi; they're supposed to be so educated, and knowledgeable  compare to the ordinary fish market or restaurant.  You have a better chance at Safeway.

Lookdown (Selene vomer)
Part of the problem, of course, is the sheer lack of familiar names for the vast majority of fish species that are caught and sold.  For us carnivorous types, there are only a few species of mammals and birds commonly sold a food.  And even there, we've seen the recent "horse meat scandal" in Europe.  For fish, there are thousands of species of edible fish, and only a few that are familiar and favorably thought of by the ordinary consumer.  It's quite logical to tell people "it tastes just as good as X", which eventually just becomes "it's X."

The best fish I ever tasted (with the possible exception of salmon) was this beast on the right, which I caught a few of while I lived in Florida for a year and a half.  I couldn't buy one in this area if I tried.  I've never seen one for sale, and I doubt I ever will.  And if I did, it would probably be under a different name.

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