If you thought your last bite of Dover sole tasted muddier than you’d expected, but you were afraid to speak up, you’ve just been vindicated by a new report carried in The L.A. Times today that uncovers a wide variety of seafood being mislabeled and misidentified around town. A non-profit group called Oceana took DNA samples of seafood sold at 74 Los Angeles retail outlets and discovered that 55% of the subjects had been mislabeled as something they were actually not.
Even worse, 100% of the red snapper samples tested turned out to be substitutes, usually tilapia and pollock, while Dover sole was often merely common sole or sutchi catfish, and perhaps most disturbing, what was labeled white tuna was often escolar, said to have “diarrheal effects,” like some sort of Chipotle burrito with gills and flippers.
Sadly, the situation gets bleaker when it comes to our treasured sushi. The study delved into 21 local sushi spots and found mislabeling even more common, such as amberjack disguised as yellowtail, which is hardly as worrisome as the aforementioned “diarrheal” fish being substituted, raw, for white tuna.
All this mislabeling is thought to occur sometime in the seafood’s exporting process, as a way to make money when commonly over-fished species aren’t available to meet demands. As the study was conducted at unnamed retail outlets alone, we think this probably takes Urasawa and its ilk out of the equation for now.
So, now the choice is your’s, L.A. Do you bravely go on eating seafood from our stores with the knowledge that it’s probably not what you’re paying for? Or do you grab a reel and hit the piers to play Russian roulette with those toxic mutants swimming in our bay? Either way, prepare to flounder (oof, sorry).