Sushi restaurants caught selling fake lobster rolls

Published on
December 9, 2015

A handful of sushi restaurants located in San Diego, Cali. have been convicted of criminal fraud for advertising and selling “lobster rolls” that did not contain the titular seafood.

A “truth-in-menu” investigation conducted by the San Diego Attorney’s Office discovered that sushi rolls marketed by eight different restaurants across the city as featuring lobster actually substituted less-expensive options such as crawfish and pollock for the premium shellfish. Investigators purchased “lobster rolls” from around the city, and then sent their purchases into a laboratory for DNA testing, thereafter uncovering the discrepancy.

“The public should be able to count on truthful advertising from anyone doing business in San Diego. Honest customer service is not only required by law, it is good business,” said City Attorney Jan Goldsmith in a prepared statement. “Our office will continue to prosecute businesses that lie to their consumers.”

Each of the eight restaurants in question pleaded guilty to California law, which disallows a business from utilizing false advertising and misbranding practices when it comes to food products. All establishments paid USD 14,000 (EUR 12,799) in fines, with an additional USD 5,000 (EUR 4,564) to reimburse for the cost of the investigation, according to NBC 7 San Diego.

The restaurants selling the lobster-less sushi rolls include:

  • Little Tokyo at 11640 Carmel Mountain Road, #122
  • Edamami Sushi & Roll at 5950 Santo Road, #G
  • Wonderful Sushi at 13185-3 Black Mountain Road
  • Ikiru Sushi at 2850 Womble Road, #105
  • OB Sushi at 4967 Newport Avenue
  • Riki Sushi at 3930 30th Street
  • Wonderful Sushi at 1288 University Avenue
  • RB Sushi 2 at 5973 El Cajon Boulevard

The owner of Wonderful Sushi, one of the convicted restaurants, told NBC 7 that he never meant to deceive customers – his restaurant was using langostino, which he said has a muddled definition in the United States. In other locations, it can be considered lobster, he told NBC 7.

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