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article imageOver 43% of salmon is mislabeled as 'wild-caught'

By Karen Graham     Oct 28, 2015 in Food
Chances are good the wild-caught salmon you ordered the last time you ate out was not what you paid for. A recent survey found that 43 percent of salmon sold in restaurants and at the retail level are mislabeled as being wild-caught.
A new survey conducted by the environmental group Oceana has found that almost half the salmon sold in retail stores and restaurants may be mislabeled and priced too high when salmon is out of season.
The results of the survey came after 82 samples of salmon collected in Virginia, Washington, Chicago and New York in the winter of 2013-2014 underwent DNA testing. The samples were all identified as being "wild-caught."
The "wild-caught" distinction separates the product from lower priced farm-raised salmon that is often imported. The "wild-caught" label also commands a higher price. Oceana found that 43 percent of the samples tested were mislabeled, meaning consumers were paying premium prices for farm-raised fish.
Oceana did a similar study during the summertime commercial fishing season in 2012 when wild salmon are plentiful and found that only seven percent of salmon samples were mislabeled. This led researchers to the conclusion that supply-and-demand is behind the mislabeling during the off-season.
Oceana senior scientist and lead author of the study, Kimberly Warner said, "mislabeling can occur at any point in the seafood supply chain." This can include stores, restaurants, and the consumer. “It cheats every honest person,” Warner said.
"More and more consumers are trying to make responsible choices," said Warner, adding, "For those people that are interested in making a sustainable choice, they want to be able to trust the information they're provided with."
Fishermen are also hurt by the mislabeling when farm-raised fish are being passed off as wild-caught. This deception is just another example of consumer fraud, or in this case, seafood fraud. In February this year, Digital Journal reported on another Oceana survey on the mislabeling of seafood.
The two-year study covered seafood sold in 20 states, and included DNA testing of 1,200 seafood samples.In the study, Oceana discovered a consumer fraud trick called, "Bait and switch." This was most evident in tuna and snapper where mislabeling was found to be as high as 87 percent.
The Digital Journal story pointed out that "other commonly mislabeled fish included slickhead and tilapia which are passed off as Alaskan or Pacific cod, king mackerel and whitefin weakfish labeled as grouper, blueline tilefish as Alaskan or Pacific halibut and, Pacific ocean perch, yellowtail rockfish, giltheaded sea bream, madai, tilapia, white bass all being labeled as red snaprer.
Warner says, "Right now, consumers are not given any information if they want to make responsible choices if they choose to do so." Keep in mind that buying fresh, wild-caught salmon depends on the season, just like many fruits and vegetables we purchase.
More about salmon mislabeling, wildcaught, farmraised salmon, Restaurants, seafood fraud
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