There’s Something Seriously Fishy About Your Fish Dinner
Fish, especially salmon, are brain food, and for that reason alone, scores of people, hopefully you too, are making a concerted effort to get more fish in their diets.
Most experts say you should eat at least two servings a week. But even if you are committed to eating more fish for your health, there’s something fishy working against you. In fact, it’s downright fraudulent.
A recent report released by the ocean conservation advocacy group Oceana revealed that fish fraud is a global epidemic. One in five fish samples they tested was mislabeled. Which means, just because you’re buying healthy, low-mercury fish, doesn’t mean that’s what you’re getting.
Here are some alarming facts that will make you think twice the next time you buy or order fish:
If you’re ordering red snapper or halibut, you’re probably getting tilefish — a fish that contains so much mercury, it’s on the “Do Not Eat” list for pregnant women.
43 percent of the “wild” salmon sold in Chicago restaurants is farm-raised salmon.
100 percent of sushi restaurants serve some type of mislabeled fish.
In California, two sushi chefs were found serving whale meat as tuna.
In the U.S., 28 percent of the fish sold is mislabeled, and close to 60 percent of that fish is actually a high-mercury species that could harm your health.
Food fraud is nothing new. Food companies are constantly trying to pull the wool over your eyes. They want you to pay more money even if the food is poor quality, because that inflates their bottom line.
Sometimes their deception is subtle, like when they use vague terms like “natural” and “healthy” on the packages of foods that are anything but.
Other times they’re committing full-on food fraud by lying to you about what you’re buying — as is the case we’re seeing with fish.
And this is the worst kind of fraud because it’s robbing you of specific health benefits. Fortunately, you can avoid becoming a victim of fish fraud. Just these five tips to be a careful — and healthier — consumer:
Steer clear of the top three most mislabeled fish: red snapper, grouper and halibut. In restaurants the fish least likely to be mislabeled are mahi-mahi, flounder and tilapia
Go straight to the source. If you can buy your fish directly from a fisherman, either at the pier or at a farmer’s market, you’re chances are much better of getting what you paid for. Plus it’s a whole lot fresher and healthier too.
If you can’t live without your tuna, try canned tuna. It’s less likely to be mislabeled because it’s gone through fewer hands before it makes its way to the grocery store.
See if you’re fish is traceable. Grocery stores like Whole Foods and Wegmans and certain restaurants sell traceable fish. When you purchase your fish, it comes with an ID number that allows you trace its source. Trace Register and Trace and Trust are two companies that provide tracing services to businesses. Check out their websites for more information.
When in doubt, look for endorsements from the Marine Stewardship Council and the Global Aquaculture Alliance. They certify sustainable fisheries and keep a close eye on their operations.