An NBC investigation in Kansas City, Mo., has discovered that 85% of area restaurants surveyed use cheaper fish in place of the one listed on the menu. Instead of red snapper, they mostly served tilapia—which costs five times less. Even “Red Snapper” restaurant was caught serving something that wasn’t red snapper.
NBC extracted DNA samples from fish ordered from 20 popular local restaurants and sent them to a research institute for testing. The results shocked them—not just because the fish substitution was so prevalent but because it’s illegal. According to a Government Accounting Office report, “the specific species of fish or shellfish must be listed to notify consumers with food allergies of a particular type of fish species.”
While one sushi restaurant manager even went so far as to say that the substitution was “an accepted industry standard,” it seems that the actual fish suppliers might be the ones perpetuating fraud. Most of the restaurants believed that what they ordered from their vendors and what they served in their restaurants was indeed what they listed on their menu. They just “didn’t understand the differences between species.”