Study Shows Mislabeling of Salmon

A study released early today by the international ocean
advocacy group Oceana reveals widespread mislabeling of salmon in restaurants
and grocery stores.
According to Beth Lowell, senior campaign director at
Oceana, of the 82 salmon samples collected from restaurants and groceries, 43
percent were mislabeled, and DNA testing confirmed that 69 percent of the
mislabeling consisted of farmed Atlantic salmon being sold as wild caught
The study notes that Oceana found mislabeled salmon
everywhere it tested, including 48 percent of the samples in Virginia, 45
percent in Washington D.C., 38 percent in Chicago, and 37 percent in New York
Salmon samples were considered to be mislabeled if they described
the product as “wild,” “Alaskan” or “Pacific,” when DNA testing showed they
were farmed Atlantic salmon or if they were labeled as a specific type of
salmon but tested otherwise.
The salmon samples were collected during the winter of
2013-2014, when wild salmon were out-of-season. A similar Oceana survey in 2013
found 7 percent of salmon collected primarily in grocery stores was mislabeled
at the peak of the 2012 commercial salmon fishing season, when wild salmon was
plentiful in the marketplace.
The Oceana study concluded that diners are five times more
likely to be misled in restaurants than grocery stores, and that consumers are
less likely to be misled in large grocery store chains that are required to
give additional information about seafood.
Also salmon purchased out-of-season from all retail types
was three times more likely to be mislabeled than salmon purchased during the
commercial fishing season, the study said.
“While US fishermen catch enough salmon to satisfy 80
percent of our domestic demand, 70 percent of that catch is then exported
instead of going directly to American grocery stores and restaurants, said
Kimberly Warner, the report author and a senior scientist at Oceana. “It’s
anyone’s guess how much of our wild domestic salmon makes its way back to the
US after being processed abroad.”
The study says consumers can help by asking specific
questions at retail shops and restaurants about what kind of fish it is,
whether it is wild caught or farm raised, and where and how it was caught. Oceana
also advised buying fresh seafood in season, particularly in restaurants,
checking prices, and supporting traceable seafood.

“If the price is too good to be true, it probably is,” the
study said. “You may be purchasing a different fish than what is on the menu or