Oceana: Mislabeling common in S. Florida


SeafoodSource staff

Published on
July 22, 2012

Oceana’s anti-seafood fraud campaign is back in the news after it reported on Monday that nearly one-third of the seafood it had tested in South Florida was found to be mislabeled.

DNA testing confirmed that 31 percent of the 96 seafood samples it collected from 60 supermarkets, restaurants and sushi bars were mislabeled according to U.S. Food and Drug Administration guidelines. Red and yellowtail snapper, grouper, wild salmon, yellowtail and white tuna were among the mislabeled species.

The investigation, which occurred in the Miami/Fort Lauderdale-area as well as Monroe and Palm Beach counties, comes about three months after more than half of the seafood Oceana had tested in the Los Angeles area was found to be mislabeled. Oceana, a Washington, D.C.-based environmental NGO, also found seafood mislabeling to be rampant in Boston-area retail outlets last October.

“Oceana’s new survey results are consistent with our own previous DNA surveys of seafood authenticity in the South Florida retail market,” said Dr. Mahmood Shivji, director of the Guy Harvey Research Institute at Nova Southeastern University. “It’s disappointing to see seafood substitution is still occurring at a high level given the negative, far-reaching consequences of this unethical practice for consumers and the environment.”

Among the South Florida investigation’s key findings were:

• Fraud was detected in half of the 14 different types of fish collected.

• Sushi venues had the highest proportion of mislabeled samples (58 percent).

• All of the white tuna samples from sushi venues were actually escolar.

• Red snapper was mislabeled in six out of seven samples.

• Grouper mislabeling dropped from a high of 40 to 50 percent during the height of the grouper-mislabeling scam in the mid-2000s to 16 percent (about one in six samples) in this study.

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