The study, which examined samples from 26 restaurants across a three year period found that customers who ordered tuna or salmon were generally on safe ground, while halibut and red snapper were almost always different fish. Overall, 47% of fish was found to be mislabelled.
“Half of what we’re buying isn’t what we think it is,” said UCLA's Paul Barber, a professor of ecology and evolutionary biology and a senior author of the study. “Fish fraud could be accidental, but I suspect that in some cases the mislabelling is very much intentional, though it’s hard to know where in the supply chain it begins."
Consumers are not only having their tastebuds duped, but "the fraud undermines environmental regulations limiting overfishing, introduces unexpected health risks and interferes with consumers’ decisions."
Seafood fraud is a massive issue in the US, where it's estimated that up to 70% of fish is mislabelled. According to USA Today columnist Larry Olmstead, the author of Real Food/Fake Food: Why You Don't Know What You're Eating and What You Can Do about It, only 6% of the red snapper sold in the US is real, with tilefish or talapia the usual substitutes. Watch Olmstead explain how consumers are being duped in the video below.