Something Fishy Going On in Restaurants
sitting down for a nice dinner and ordering either grouper or snapper
at a restaurant in the U.S. have a better than even chance of actually
getting served catfish, tilapia or some other inexpensive alternative
instead. Of course, as The
Miami Herald reports,
these same establishments are very unlikely to inform patrons that
a switcheroo has taken place.
Shivji, a geneticist who heads the Guy Harvey Research Institute,
tested plates from about 100 restaurants across the country and
discovered through genetic testing that more than half had served
something other than the grouper or snapper ordered from the menu.
consumer fraud,’ said Dr. Shivji, who teaches at Nova Southeastern
University. “You’re paying for item X and usually grouper and red
snapper are on the higher end of the price list.’
to the Herald report,
domestic grouper costs $11 or $12 a pound wholesale while imported
catfish is only $2.50 a pound. Restaurants that have made
the switch unbeknownst to their customers are clearly achieving
greater margins even if their actions are a karma no-no.
Shivji’s research has found that consumers are not the only victims
of this fishy bait and switch. Wholesalers and restaurants may
not always be aware they are buying and selling something other
than grouper or snapper.
lack of government inspectors combined with consumers not familiar
with various species means fish mislabeling is virtually guaranteed
to continue. A Government
Accountability Office report found the Food and Drug Administration
was overmatched in trying to deal with the issue.
may also have serious health consequences for consumers who may
eat a species they are allergic to or another for a variety of
reasons that may also cause illness.
Questions: Do you think the high incidence of mislabeled fish will
lead to a crisis in consumer confidence? What can wholesalers,
retailers and restaurants do, separate from the government, to
ensure the integrity of the fish market in the U.S.?