FTC urged to get involved in fraud

U.S. Reps. Barney Frank and Edward Markey, both of Massachusetts, are calling on the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to step up its involvement in protecting consumers from species substitution, mislabeling and other forms of seafood fraud.

The recommendation comes on the heels of numerous investigations, including ones by the Boston Globe, Oceana and Consumer Reports, in which dozens of seafood samples were collected from area restaurants and supermarkets and a significant percentage of the samples were found to be mislabeled.

In a letter to FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz, Frank and Markey said seafood fraud likely qualifies as an “unfair and deceptive act or practice” under Section 5 of the Federal Trade Commission Act. The legislators asked Leibowitz several questions, including whether the FTC is doing anything to protect consumers from seafood fraud and whether it’s working with other federal and state agencies to prevent it.

Frank and Markey said seafood fraud hurts not only consumers who are “paying more for a less expensive and desirable fish,” but also domestic fishermen who are competing against imported product and trying to supply “fresh, safe, sustainable seafood.”

The legislators asked Leibowitz to answer their questions by 21 November.


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