Report reveals mislabeling of fish in restaurants, stores

In Houston area, 49 percent of fish samples tested were mislabeled

By Amy Davis - Reporter/Consumer Expert

HOUSTON - Whether you get fresh fish at the grocery store or at your favorite restaurant, a new report has found that consumers are often not getting what they paid for.

Fish is healthier and packed with nutritional value, but unless you're an inquisitive customer, you may not be getting the nutrition you've been promised.

Fresh off the boat and all the way to your dinner plate, somewhere along the way, seafood is getting mislabeled.

"That's horrible," said Annette Brown, a fish market customer. "You want to get what you pay for."

Oceana, an international conservation group, tested fish from more than 670 retail outlets across the nation and found mislabeling everywhere they looked.

In the Houston area, 49 percent of the samples were mislabeled.

"Some of the concerns with the mislabeling have been some of the health impacts," said Beth Lowell, Campaign Director of Oceana. "We found high mercury fish swapped out for lower mercury fish."

The study found sushi venues most often mislabeled their fish, followed by other restaurants then grocery stores.
Mark White runs a fresh seafood market called Captain White Seafood. He said he goes great lengths to insure his fish is properly labeled.

"You can always buy the whole fish that way, you know exactly what you are getting," said White.

At restaurants, it's more difficult. The fish often ends up cooked or covered in a sauce.

"You should always ask them where they got it," said Ann Cashion, chef of Johnny's Half Shell Restaurant. "It's important."

Cashion said reputable places will know the answer, but ultimately, it comes down to trust.

Currently, less than 1 percent of seafood is inspected for fraud. Oceana wants lawmakers to change this.

The most mislabeled fish is the snapper. It's often replaced with rockfish. Experts say to pay attention to the front and the back of the filet for differences in texture and skin.

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