Sushi restaurants in Los Angeles mislabel the type of fish in their products nearly half of the time, according to the latest research to show fraud in marketing of food products.
Researchers behind the study, published in the journal Conservation Biology, tested the DNA of fish at 26 Los Angeles sushi restaurants between 2012 and 2015 and found that 47% of sushi was mislabeled.
Some types of fish were mislabeled more than others. Tuna, for instance, was never mislabeled and salmon was labeled correctly 90% of the time. Red snapper and halibut on the other hand were never labeled accurately in the samples collected.
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Some of the mislabeling may be accidental but much of it was likely done intentionally to save money by providing customers with a cheaper type of fish than they thought they were buying, says study author Paul Barber, a UCLA professor of ecology and evolutionary biology. Barber notes that restaurants may be buying mislabeled fish rather than doing the mislabeling themselves.
“If we don’t have accurate information on what we’re buying, we can’t make informed choices,” Barber said. “The amount of mislabeling is so high and consistent, one has to think that even the restaurants are being duped.”
Regulations that went into effect earlier this month provide for monitoring of the seafood industry to the annoyance of the industry. Food fraud more broadly has drawn increased attention in recent years as fraudulent products have resulted in health problems and even death.