By Blake Essig
Channel 2 News
6:00 PM AKST, March 3, 2013
When it comes to eating fish, there’s a good chance that you don’t know exactly what’s on your plate.
From 2010 to 2012, ocean conservation group “Oceana” tested 1,215 fish samples from more than 650 retail outlets in 21 states across the country.
Oceana officials say that DNA testing confirmed that one-third of all seafood was mislabeled, meaning what was ordered wasn't what was served.
“Consumers have a right to know what they’re eating, what they’re buying and that they’re getting the value that they think they’re getting,” said Susan Murray, Oceana Deputy Vice President, Pacific. “Fish is a wonderful healthy think to eat and you want to know that the choice that you make is what’s going in your mouth.”
The Oceana study also revealed that sushi bars were the worst culprits, mislabeling their seafood 74-percent of the time, with snapper being the number one mislabeled fish across the board.
“We found in the labeling of snapper there are 47 different fish that can be labeled as snapper,” said Murray. “87% of the samples they took were mislabeled.”
While there is currently no nationwide legislation in place to ensure traceability for all seafood, finding out where the problem starts is anyone's guess.
"It could be anywhere on the supply chain,” said Murray. “That's why in our study we didn't release the names of restaurants or retail outlets because you don't know where the bait and switch happened.”
Unlike most places in the United States, here in Alaska we're privileged that in a lot of cases we know exactly where our fish came from.
"In Alaska if we're buying salmon or hailibut we're fairly confident we know where that fish came from," said Murray. "I can go down to the dock and get something from a boat and know the specific fisherman it came from in some cases."
In order to make sure you don't become a victim of seafood fraud, Oceana advises consumers to always ask where and how your seafood was caught, be wary of fish that seems cheaper than it should be, and always when possible, buy fish whole.
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