New York passes law to prevent tuna mislabeling

Published on
January 6, 2017

A New York law that went into effect on 7 January requires any fish sold as “white tuna” be made out of actual tuna.

S6842B was introduced in 2015 by Senator Tony Avella (D-Bayside) to prevent mislabeling of escolar as “albacore tuna” or “white tuna.”

“Recent, independent investigations conducted by multiple sources have revealed significant levels of fraud and species misidentification in the commercial fish industry in the United States,” the bill states. “In New York City alone, one investigation revealed over 40 percent of the samples of fish tested were mislabeled or misidentified.”

The species most commonly substituted for white or albacore tuna is escolar, also known as “oilfish.”

“Although escolar is a species of fish that is commercially available in its own right, it has a significantly lower market value than tuna,” the bill said.

The mislabeling can be harmful to the health of consumers as consumption of escolar carries a risk of digestive illness because it has “purgative effects that are not associated with eating tuna,” the bill said. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued a warning against the sale of oilfish due to this effect.

“The Food and Drug Administration advises against the sale or marketing of escolar in intrastate/interstate commerce, and further requests that seafood manufacturers or processors should inform potential buyers or sellers of the possible purgative effect associated with the consumption of this species of fish,” it said in a public announcement.

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