Are you sure that white tuna roll you ordered from your local sushi joint is actually tuna? Because chances are extremely high that it's actually snake mackerel, a type of fish that contains a toxin known to... cause severe diarrhea. Yummy! A conservation group called Oceana recently released a disturbing report [pdf] that reveals "widespread seafood fraud" in New York City. Fraudulent food in this town? We've seen this movie before, especially starring sushi.
The group obtained 143 fresh seafood samples—from restaurants, small markets and national chain grocery stores—and found that 39% sold or served mislabeled fish. Of the 81 retail outlets sampled, 58% (three in five) sold mislabeled product. National chains fared the best, with only 12% carrying fraudulent stock, while small markets ranked significantly higher at 40% mislabeled fish. Perhaps most disturbing considering the city's love affair with Japanese restaurants, 100% (We repeat: ONE. HUNDRED. PERCENT.) of the 16 sushi bars they tested sold mislabeled fish. None of these stores or restaurants were named in the study, but researches collected the majority of their samples from Manhattan.
Researchers discovered that besides tuna, red snapper was the most commonly mislabeled product. Their tests revealed "red snapper" samples to be either a lower quality type of snapper or, among many others, tilefish, a variety of seafood the FDA advises people not to eat due to the extremely high levels of mercury. Aside from health concerns, consumers are being cheated when they assume they're buying top quality products and instead getting lesser-valued fish. Dining or shopping "in higher-end eateries and retail outlets…did not guarantee an honestly labeled seafood meal or purchase."
Good thing Big Soy Sauce already has their PR machine running on high.