New York City Restaurants Have A Major Problem With Mislabeled Fish

Sushi and Sashimi

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NYC likes to think of itself as an epicurean epicentre, but it turns out its restaurants and grocery stores don’t know the difference between red snapper and ocean perch.According to a new study by Oceana, an international environmental advocacy group, NYC is guilty of “widespread seafood fraud.”

The research shows that 58 per cent of the sampled retail outlets sold mislabeled fish, 94 per cent of “white tuna” in restaurants was not tuna at all but a type of snake mackerel known as escolar, and 100 per cent of the sushi bars were guilty of mislabeling dishes on their menu. The overall rate in New York City for seafood fraud was 39 per cent.

The Oceana staff collected fish from the NYC area between June and September 2012, taking samples from Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens, with a few others bought in Staten Island, Scarsdale, Commack, Hudson, and Edgewater, NJ as well.

New York is not alone in its seafood deception — 48 per cent of restaurants in Boston, 55 per cent in Los Angeles, and 31 per cent in Miami were found guilty of the same mislabeling.

The implications of selling mislabeled, lower-quality fish range from health concerns (some contain toxins or are high in mercury) to religious (non-kosher species are often mislabeled as kosher), not to mention the economic impact of paying more money for a lesser-quality product.

Restaurants and seafood suppliers aren’t entirely to blame. Oceana reports that as of 2011, 90 per cent of the seafood consumed in the US is imported, and due to the complex and obscure supply chain, it is next to impossible to tell who perpetrates the fraud without more federal involvement.

See the full charts from Oceana’s findings below.

Oceana Study NYC Mislabel fish

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Oceana Study NYC Mislabel fish

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