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Seafood Fraud Crackdown Promised In New Labelling Bill

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Seafood (credit: Toby Canham/Getty Images)

Seafood (credit: Toby Canham/Getty Images)

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — Do you know your snapper from a sea bass? In DNA testing by a conservation group, over 40 percent of seafood samples from California restaurants were not the fish that was on the menu, and that’s prompting the legislature to consider making labelling rules clearer.

State Senator Alex Padilla (D-Pacoima) says diners are being deceived when their dishes arrive, and Friday morning in San Francisco, he will join Aquarium of the Bay, seafood supplier TwoXSea, and conservation organization Oceana to discuss his legislation to crack down on mislabeled fish.

During a demonstration of how to recognize fish, the lawmaker will discuss criminal penalties for knowingly selling fish labeled as a different species.  He says current state guidelines do not clearly specify labeling policy.

According to an Oceana report:

  • 84% of sushi samples were mislabeled in Southern California
  • 58% of restaurants visited in Northern California sold mislabeled fish
  • 52% of all fish sampled were mislabeled in Los Angeles and Orange Counties
  • 38% of all fish sampled were mislabeled in Northern California
  • 27% of grocery stores visited in Northern California sold mislabeled fish

The concern is more than just about consumers getting what they pay for.  The lawmakers supporting this say mislabeled fish means diners who think they’re eating sustainable seafood could actually be ordering up a species that is threatened.

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