CSI: Fish Pier

You ordered mahi-mahi but is it really Vietnamese catfish on your plate?  The NY Times reports that researchers compared genes of commercially-available fish with a database of gene sequences of identified species and “consistently found that 20 to 25 percent of the seafood products they check are fraudulently identified.”   Seafood sold in the U.S.–84 percent of which is imported, according to the Times article–travels “a multistep global supply chain.”  Along the way the reported percentage is mislabeled, both to upgrade to more expensive species (“tilapia may be the Meryl Streep of seafood, capable of playing almost any role”) and to disguise an overfished species that conscientious consumers might avoid as something plentiful.   The Times quotes a doctoral student who has worked on the research:  “If you can’t even trust that the name is right, then how can you trust anything else on the package, including the date?”  Let’s see the invisible hand of the free market solve this problem.

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