Senator Boxer, 500 Restaurateurs Plead for Action against Fish Fraud

Oct 26, 2012 02:22 AM EDT | By Sharon Robinson

California Senator Barbara Boxer is urging the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to take more decisive action against the rampant fish fraud in the U.S.

A study by Oceana, a large not-for-profit group involved in the study of all things marine, revealed in July that a large amount of fish in the market is mislabeled. They are a different species than what their labels claim.

According to the data, fish fraud is most rampant in South Florida, with 58 percent fish being mislabeled. Further, 48 percent of all fish are mislabeled in Boston, followed by 55 percent in Los Angeles.

The Boston Globe also carried out a study on fish fraud in Massachusetts. The study found that escolar, an oily fish that can make people sick, was being sold as white tuna, catfish was being served as a flounder fillet and so on.

The Oceana study focused on yellowtail snapper, grouper and salmon, among a few. It was found that King Mackerel was being sold as grouper. King Mackerel is known to contain high amounts of mercury and is likely to harm pregnant women when consumed.

Most cheap fish was being sold under the guise of a more expensive fish.

 "Our results suggest that nationwide, people may be receiving a completely different fish than what they're paying for," says Dr. Kimberly Warner, senior scientist at Oceana, in a press release. "Not only does seafood fraud cheat consumers and hurt honest seafood businesses, it also puts our health at risk and undermines efforts to eat sustainably."

According to Huffington Post, Senator Boxer has sent a strongly worded letter to the FDA for not taking immediate and proper action toward preventing fish fraud.

"Uniform, national standards and enforcement are necessary to ensure the safety of consumers throughout our country. The FDA has the authority to inspect domestic and imported seafood to detect for fraud, yet very few inspections are conducted for this purpose," Boxer wrote.

After the release of the report by Oceana, U.S. Representatives Edward Markey and Barney Frank introduced the Safety and Fraud Enforcement for Seafood Act, or the SAFE Seafood Act. However, this has not yet made it past the committee. HuffPost believes that "election-season inertia" is to blame.

 A group of 500 restaurateurs signed and sent a petition, Thursday, to the Congress, The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and The Council on Environmental Quality, according to Oceana. Celebrity chefs Mario Batali, Eric Ripert and Thomas Keller are three of the 500 to sign the petition.




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