Consumer Reports says almost one quarter of fish is mislabeled

A recent expose by Consumer Reports suggests more than 20 percent of fish sold in America is mislabeled as the wrong species. Image from Wikimedia Commons.

Millions of Americans enjoy seafood, but Consumer Reports cautions that they may not be eating the fish they thought they bought. A recent Consumer Reports investigation found that more than 20 percent of fish was mislabeled.

Something fishy about seafood

According to USA Today, $80.2 billion was spent by Americans on seafood. That kind of money always draws scam artists looking to make a quick buck.

According to USA Today, a recent investigation by Consumer Reports found that few consumers were getting the kind of fish they believed they were. Consumer Reports took 190 samples of frozen and fresh fish from stores and restaurants and had them DNA tested to verify which species the samples were. In all, 22 percent of samples were not the species of fish advertised.

The investigation tested for 14 different species of fish. There were four that were correctly identified on labels every time, those being Chilean sea bass, Coho salmon, Ahi and Bluefin tuna.

Certain species more likely mislabeled

Not a single sample of red snapper or lemon sole really was lemon sole or red snapper. However, eight of the 22 red snapper samples were not definitively another fish but not definitively red snapper.

Rampant problem

Plenty of evidence suggests a lot of fish sold in the U.S. is not what it is labeled to be.

The Boston Globe published similar findings about false labeling on fish earlier this year. During a five-month long investigation, the Globe collected 183 samples from various restaurants and supermarkets in the Boston area of fish. DNA testing revealed that 48 percent of the samples, 87 in total, were not the species of fish that was being advertised, including some from top-dollar restaurants.

According to ABC, one company, Therion International, found that almost 50 percent of fish sold in restaurants is not the fish advertised on the menu. The Food and Drug Administration found during port inspections that one-third of imported fish is the species it is being sold as.

Across the fish pond

Fish fraud is not solely contained to the U.S. According to the Daily Mail, Bangor University, a college in Wales, published a study in April about falsely labeled fish products. Researchers performed DNA testing on 400 different fish products from various supermarkets, finding that 6 percent did not contain the fish advertised on the label.

In 2010, a study by University College Dublin tested 156 samples of cod and haddock from restaurants and shops, finding that one-quarter were mislabeled. The Food Standards Agency of the British government found that 10 percent of the 380 fish samples it tested were not the fish species being advertised.

High price and little inspection spawns fraud

Inherent to the problem, according to ABC, is that the price of fish has skyrocketed in recent years. In the past decade, fish prices have gone up by 10 percent. The Food and Drug Administration also lacks sufficient resources to counter food fraud in fish; only 2 percent of the nation’s imported fish is inspected though 84 percent of the fish consumed in America is imported.



USA Today


Boston Globe

Daily Mail



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