Chefs urge U.S. to stop seafood fraud

More than 500 chefs are calling on the United States government to take action on seafood fraud and mislabeling.

The chefs joined Oceana in issuing a letter to government leaders calling for requirements that seafood be traceable. Sustainable chef Barton Seaver led the letter, which has signatures from nearly all 50 states, and includes chefs Mario Batali, Rick Bayless, Daniel Boulud, Thomas Keller, Jacques Pepin, Eric Ripert and Michael Symon.

“Seafood mislabeling is one of the most important issues currently facing the culinary industry,” said Seaver, who is also a National Geographic Fellow and author of “For Cod and Country.” “It’s an honor to join this list of distinguished names in a plea for a nationwide traceability system that will not only help preserve ocean ecosystems for future generations, but will also increase profits and keep illegal fish out of our restaurants.”

In a release announcing the letter, Oceana cited recent studies that show seafood may be mislabeled as often as 25 to 70 percent of the time for commonly-swapped species like red snapper, wild salmon and Atlantic cod, disguising species that are less desirable, cheaper or more readily available.

“These chefs and restaurant owners are taking a stand and saying, ‘Enough is enough. We need better information about our seafood in the U.S.  We need traceability,’” said Beth Lowell, campaign director at Oceana. “Tracing our seafood from boat to plate is the only way to ensure that it’s safe, legal and honestly labeled.”

Oceana cited other studies showing “shocking” amounts of mislabeling in cities such as Boston, Los Angeles and Miami.

Oceana is supporting efforts to change the law requiring more traceability, such as the Safety and Fraud Enforcement for Seafood (SAFE Seafood) Act (H.R. 6200), introduced by Representatives Edward Markey (D-Mass.) and Barney Frank (D-Mass.). If enacted, the law would require full traceability for all seafood sold in America.

Also this week, grocery store chain Price Chopper announced it was voluntarily testing its seafood to ensure proper labeling.


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