Nationwide Seafood Fraud Exposed in the US

Nationwide Seafood Fraud Exposed in the US

 

Less than a month ago, Oceana conducted a study that revealed a major misrepresentation of shrimp across the United States. Oceana, one of the most highly credible advocacy organizations in the marine science world, works to protect our oceans, as well as make sure the regulations of the fishing and marketing of seafood are being followed. In upholding this responsibility, the organization recently conducted a unique DNA testing on 143 shrimp products from 111 grocery stores and restaurants. These tests concluded that approximately 30% of these products were mislabeled and 35% of these vendors were guilty of marketing mislabeled shrimp products.

Across the US, there were shrimp labeled as entirely different species than what they were. Bags of mixed/mystery shrimp labeled as being one particular product, and farmed species labeled as “wild caught” and visa versa.  As negligible as this may seem, these details are extremely important for industries, as well as consumers. For industries, mislabeling food products means the possibility of violating corporation laws. For consumers, certain people purchase certain foods for any many reasons. Due to misleading labels patrons are not consuming their intended products.  

 

Researchers are traveling to randomize sites throughout the US and purchasing specifically labeled shrimp as a meal at a restaurant or as a product from a grocery store in order to study this phenomenon. The samples are dissected into small pieces and preserved in small vials with drying beads. They keep a detailed list of where the product was purchased, the country of origin, and any other information on the menu. The samples are then taken back to labs for DNA analysis.

Studies like this have never been done of shrimp before because shrimp have not been considered to be a mislabeled species. These studies are typically done on more endangered and desired species, as the market tends to mislabel them as to not be found to violate certain fishing regulations. These studies have previously focused on species such as grouper and snapper, but since the shrimp study has shown significant results, other efforts are intended to be focus on other popular invertebrates such as crabs and oysters.