The menu may identify a fish dish as one thing, but that doesn’t necessarily stop the cook from sending in a stunt-fish to take its place. The practice of baiting diners with an attractive-sounding fish and switching it with something less appealing may be more common than most people realize.
A Boston Globe investigation caught food establishments mis-labeling cheap, obscure varieties of fish as more expensive and well-known brethren. In five months, the paper found escolar substituting for white tuna, Alaskan butterfish replaced with sablefish and flounder fillets absent in favor of cheap catfish. The paper collected dishes from 134 restaurants, had the meat’s DNA tested and found that nearly half the species were mislabeled.
The restaurants or markets aren’t always to blame, because fish fraud takes place all the way up the supply chain, starting with fishermen and ranging to wholesalers, importers and places of final purchase.
The investigation found that in some cases, the stunt-fish were caught thousands of miles away, frozen and presented as fresh, more expensive varieties. The news is all the more alarming because it comes from a seafood hotbed. If you live in a landlocked area, it’s reasonable to assume these sorts of shenanigans are even more rampant.
On the menu, but not on your plate [Boston Globe]