Oceana’s anti-fraud campaign marches on

By

Steven Hedlund

Published on
October 19, 2011

As part of a campaign launched in May to raise awareness of the prevalence of species substitution and other forms of seafood fraud, Oceana is working on a follow-up report to its “Bait and Switch” report. But this time, the Washington, D.C., environmental group is collecting its own seafood samples and getting them tested at independent laboratories.

Oceana is calling on the federal government to make combating seafood fraud a priority by strengthening its enforcement of existing laws, increasing the number of inspections and improving coordination and information sharing among agencies.

Intended to kick off the campaign, the initial report was a compilation of data Oceana gathered from other sources. Now the group is in the early stages of collecting its own data for a follow-up report investing the prevalence of fraud, working with “several” labs, including Applied Food Technologies of Alachua, Fla., and Therion International of Saratoga Springs, N.Y.

“The research that we reported when we launched our campaign and released the ‘Bait and Switch’ report was from the past 10 years. Now I’m curious as a scientist whether the level of fraud that we previously reported is still occurring,” said Kimberly Warner, Oceana senior scientist. “And what I’ve heard from the people in the business who do the testing is that it is. It’s always good to check. As more attention is paid to the subject, it might encourage more processors and distributors to test their product.”

The May report attracted a slew of mainstream media coverage from outlets such as New York Times, Washington Post, Baltimore Sun and Seattle Post-Intelligencer, in addition to a host of smaller news outlets, which both surprised and encouraged Warner.

“It’s something that resonated with the public,” said Warner. “That’s why it has garnered the attention it has received thus far.”

No timeline has been set for the report, she said.

Click here to read Wednesday’s Q&A with LeeAnn Applewhite, CEO of Applied Food Technologies. Applewhite is among three panelists leading a 27 October SeafoodSource webinar titled “Cracking the code: The Latest Advancements in DNA Testing for Seafood.” Click here for more information on the webinar.  

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