​Salmon Fraud: Restaurants Prompt Advocacy Group To Warn Customers Of Scam

Salmon Fraud Restaurants
Author: John LesterBy:
Staff Reporter
Oct. 28, 2015

Salmon fraud in restaurants as prompted an advocacy group to warn customers this winter. The seafood is usually mislabeled in the scam and the customer is served something else, according to Scientific America

Restaurants are mislabeling farmed salmon as pricier, more sustainable wild salmon, according to Oceana. The advocacy organization has previously found fraud in retail marketing of other fish, shrimp and crab cakes.

In their findings released Wednesday, diners were misled in restaurants when ordering 67% of the time. The group warns to ask questions about what you order so that you don’t fall for the scam.

Salmon fraud in restaurants prompts Oceana to warn customers of seafood scam

Salmon fraud in restaurants prompts Oceana to warn customers of seafood scam

The salmon fraud in restaurants prompted Oceana do to their own research. They tested fish in grocery stores, finding it was dramatically less likely to be mislabeled — about 20% — and that large grocery stores were significantly more reliable with fish sourcing than small markets.

Still, of the 82 salmon samples taken during the 2013-2014 winter in Chicago,Washington, D.C., New York and Virginia, 43% were mislabeled.

“Eat your salmon in season,” says Dr. Kimberly Warner, senior scientist at Oceana and one of the writers of the study. “Time of year makes such a big difference on whether salmon mislabeling is high or low.”

Earlier in 2013, Oceana came up with dramatically different results, finding that only 7% of 384 samples were mislabeled. However, that was when wild sockeye salmon was in season, Warner says. They retested salmon in the winter and were sadly affirmed.

“Of course, salmon is a popular dish — it’s the U.S.’s most consumed fish per capita — and it’s shocking to not be able to trust what you’re eating,” says Warner. Since the fish can only be tested at the retail level, it’s impossible to tell where along the salmon supply chain mislabeling occurs. However, the path from water to plate is often very convoluted.

The U.S. exports 70% of its wild salmon, even though that amount could fulfill 80% of the major demand in the country. The reason? Processing fish is cheaper out of the country.

“There’s currently no traceability system when it comes to salmon,” Warner says. “When it makes its way back to the U.S., it’s just this anonymous salmon.”

Aside from buying fresh seafood in season, Oceana suggests asking more question about where your fish is from, supporting traceable seafood and checking the price. In some cases, if it’s too good to be true, it probably is when it comes to salmon fraud in restaurants.

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