Seafood mislabeled 33 percent of the time according to new study

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There's a good chance that the fish you're eating isn't actually what you think it is. A new study says that seafood is mislabeled in the United States 33 percent of the time, which has got to be the grossest news of the day.

International advocacy group Oceana tested for seafood fraud across the US and has finally released its findings. It collected 1,215 seafood samples from 674 different retailers between 2010 and 2012 and found that a third of them didn't match the fish promised on the labels. The samples were taken from restaurants, sushi vendors and grocery stores.

Apparently it's Pennsylvania and Southern California that have the largest concentration of mislabeled seafood. More then 50 percent of the products from those areas were labeled incorrectly. Nationwide, packages listed as being "tuna" or "red snapper" were the most common to be mislabeled. Only seven of 120 "red snapper" packages were found to actually contain red snapper when they were DNA tested. Additionally, between one fifth and one third of halibut, grouper, cod and Chilean seabass samples were found to be mislabeled.

In New York City, products claiming to be "red snapper" and "halibut" were actually found to contain tilefish. In South Florida, "grouper" was actually king mackerel. Both tilefish and king mackerel are on the FDA's "Do Not Eat" list because they contain high levels of mercury. In addition, "white tuna" nationwide was found to actually be escolar, which the FDA says can cause serious gastrointestinal problems for people who eat more than a few ounces. 

Fortunately the FDA has compiled a chart of commonly misbranded seafood to help educate consumers, and Oceana included a similar one in their study. Still, the best advice is to ask a whole lot of questions about the fish you're purchasing. If it's too good to be true, it probably is. 

Photo/Video credit: Oceana
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