BSB reacts to Boston Globe investigation

A national anti-seafood fraud organization has criticized a Boston Globe investigation into mislabeled seafood in restaurants as unfairly blaming a supplier that is not the culprit.

The Better Seafood Board (BSB) released an op-ed piece to the media today, written by BSB Secretary Lisa Weddig, which the BSB alleges the Globe declined to publish. In it, the BSB praised the paper for pursuing the issue of seafood mislabeling, and following up on the story with a new piece last week finding repeat offenders. The Globe article showed results of independent DNA testing that proved restaurants were serving less-expensive fish under labeling for more expensive species.

“The series was initially a good example of how investigative journalism can help drive regulators while policing producers, processors, restaurants and retailers alike,” Weddig wrote. “Unfortunately, with its latest installment on this subject the Globe missed the mark.”

Weddig took issue with the Globe’s mention of North Coast, a Massachusetts seafood processor and distributor, which she wrote was unfairly and inaccurately singled out. She said the BSB conducted its own review of North Coast, and found no indication of mislabeling, accidental or otherwise, on its invoices.

“While fish fraud concerns often revolve around ambiguity and misunderstanding, the facts of the case-study presented in the latest report are neither ambiguous nor misunderstood,” Weddig wrote.

Weddig’s op-ed notes that Massachusetts law makes it clear that menu labeling is the purview of the restaurants and regulators, not distributors, and holding North Coast responsible for what a restaurant does after getting seafood from the company is not fair.

“The narrative described in the Globe’s report is fundamentally flawed and suggests distributors like North Coast who provide correctly labeled seafood should be responsible for policing the menus of its customers,” Weddig wrote. “With 1,000 customers and with 10 items or more on each customer menu, North Coast would be tasked with reviewing 10,000 menu lines to ensure its customers were not involved in defrauding their customers.”

A call from SeafoodSource seeking comment from North Coast was not immediately returned.


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