Blink:Recently I had a craving for fish, thus went to Philadelphia’s leading gourmet food store. The farm raised salmon @ $24.99 per pound looked great. When I asked the individual behind the counter where the salmon came from, I received a puzzled look. Where does our fish come from?
Read On:Fish facts:
- The average American eats approximately 16 pounds of fish and shellfish per year.
- 84 percent of seafood eaten in the U.S. is imported, only 2% is inspected.
What are the economic incentives for seafood fraud? For starters it is a way to imitate a more expensive product to avoid tariffs on a particular species – you purchased Mahi Mahi, but you received Yellowtail. Other forms of labeling fraud is short weighing where excess breading, ice or salt water are added so you end up buying a smaller quantity of fish than labeled. According to the 2010 National Conference of Weights and Measures, 40 percent of the weight of many seafood products is actually ice and not fish. The real downside to seafood fraud is it opens the door for illegal species to enter the market. Remember, seafood is a high risk food that requires proper handling and refrigeration. The substitution of illegal species can lead to a broader range of unknown contaminants.
What is the solution? Currently, the FDA just began using a risk based, sequencing DNA bar coding computer system. However, they only screen 50 percent of seafood imports. What about the other 50 percent? To me it sounds like we should get UPS involved in our fish supply chain. They could set up a fish tracking database that tracks down every piece of fish like a UPS package from its source of origin.
So now back to my fish tale. I decided to pass on the salmon, returned to my neighborhood and bought a nice slice of swordfish at my local market @ $9.99 per pound – wild caught, never frozen, imported from Panama. Or was it Mako Shark? Damn, I will never know.