Mystery fish: Your red snapper may really be ocean perch [OPINION]
Posted by: Lauren Carpenter
Published on: August 6th, 2012 at 6:51 AM
Any Consumer Reports fans in the Capital Region?
I think my husband probably gets the top dog award having been a loyal follower and subscriber soon after we got married jumping on the five year subscription plan even when our post-honeymoon budget didn’t really allow for such a luxury.
Even today, he still has the hard copies coming and pays an additional ten or twenty bucks a year to have the online version as well, he justifies, for “larger household purchases.”
Some men have their porn, my guy has his monthly CR to check out with its lab tests and regular features; now he also has 24/7 access to exclusive ratings, reviews and online features not available to the general public. (Maybe all this is the equivalent of a sexy centerfold to him…okay, maybe not).
If you haven’t gotten the gist of just how big a fan my husband is of CR, he’ll even spar with me on the tuna fish we purchase because of what he reads in CR. He lives and breathes the purchasing decisions recommended by the magazine’s gurus and if its says buy chunk light tuna, he buys chunk light tuna.
I say, “No, buy the albacore, it’s better quality and it tastes better.”
“No,” he says, “Consumer Reports says chunk is the best so that’s what I’m buying.”
“You’re going to let a magazine tell you what type of tuna to buy when your taste buds are telling you differently?” I spit out.
I give you this background because, after all these years, I too now am a faithful CR fan although I don’t read it for pleasure like he does. I did happen to catch a recent feature on mystery fish, though, and I feel it’s worth a mention here in out living section.
If you purchase seafood, continue reading.
Here are some of CR’s stats that you may find as disturbing about the seafood we buy:
Up to 25 percent of seafood that we purchase from around the world is mislabeled
Only four types of fish were always identified correctly
18 percent of CR’s samples didn’t match up with labels
4 percent were incompletely labeled or misidentified by supermarket employees
The most disturbing mention was that the FDA “has spent little time looking for seafood fraud in recent years.”
I knew there was something fishy about this story I read.
The FDA did say, according to CR, “that all imports are screened before they enter the country and that a subset are inspected based on their potential risk…the agency has purchased DNA equipment to start testing imported and domestic seafood species.”
Concurring that the FDA has put minimal effort into this, a National Fisheries Institute spokesperson said that the FDA does, indeed, have the authority to deal with fish fraud, but they pretty much ignore the situation, calling it an “unfunded mandate.”
CR then asks what can we do as consumers. Here is a short list to make you feel better about your seafood purchase, where it came from and what its DNA truly is:
Ask the seafood manager (or waiter) is the fish was farmed or caught
Buy only from a clean fish retailer
Note the hygiene of the workers
Buy fish that’s well displayed on a bed of ice with no tag inserted in its flesh
Fish should smell fresh and mild
Eyes of fish should be clear, gills bright red and free of slime
We just need to be better consumers and know that fish fraud is alive and well. After reading this article, I’ll do my due diligence when shopping for fresh seafood, but I still won’t allow a magazine to tell me what tastes good.
For that, I’ll rely on my own taste buds and preferences, as it should be.