Groups criticize poor fish labeling practices

May 27, 2011 6:49:56 PM PDT
When it comes to seafood, conservation groups say consumers can be fooled about what they are eating. Some concerned scientists are sounding an alarm that fish fraud is not only bad for consumers, it is dangerous to fish populations. People in the seafood industry describe this as one of those dirty little secrets. A new report by a group called Oceanana accuses the Food and Drug Administration of letting American fish standards slip.

"The FDA has fallen down on the job when it comes to enforcing non-health related problems," Oceana Chief Scientist Michael Hirshfield said.

"Almost 80 percent of the fish consumed in the United States comes from outside the country and that means there is a whole range of different practices." CleanFish spokesperson Alicia Lumea said. Lumea works for one of the rare fish wholesalers who do document their fish.

Critics believe every fish consumer deserves accountability. Fish meat looks too similar, they say, after the fins and scales are gone there is too much uncertainty.

"Without tagging, it is conceivable that people could be eating endangered species," Lumea said.

Oceana recommends using DNA samples of fish to confirm that they are what they are supposed to be. That would mean consumers would probably pay more money. but at least they would know what they are paying for.