Last year, Americans spent $80.2 billion on seafood. But whether you're ordering the yellowfin tuna special at a restaurant or shopping for catfish at a local market, there might be something fishy about that seafood. That fish on your dish might not be exactly what you wanted.
Consumer Reports investigators bought 190 pieces of seafood from retailers and restaurants in the tri-state New York area and sent them out for DNA analysis. The results confirmed what other recent studies have shown: More than 20 percent of the fish bought were different species, incompletely labeled or mislabeled. For example:
- Of the 14 types of fish bought, only four—Chilean sea bass, coho salmon, and bluefin and ahi tuna—were always identified correctly.
- All 10 of the "lemon soles" and 12 of the 22 "red snappers" we bought weren't the claimed species.
- One sample, labeled as grouper, was actually tilefish, which averages three times as much mercury as grouper.
Mislabeled fish can hurt consumers in many ways. Obviously, customers should be disturbed when they're paying for an expensive fish, say king salmon, yet getting a lesser species such as pink salmon. But as with the grouper sample in our investigation, misidentified fish can also bring health concerns.