Group finds fish mislabeled in restaurants, sushi bars

Group finds fish mislabeled in restaurants, sushi bars

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ATLANTA -

If you're a fish and sushi lover, there is a good chance you might not be eating what you ordered. A recent investigation uncovered what it calls "widespread seafood fraud."

According to the ocean conservation group Oceana, more than a third of the fish they examined in Atlanta was mislabeled. In some cities, it was as high as 50 percent. The group tested restaurants, sushi bars and grocery stores for mislabeled fish.

Across the country, they say they found fish high in mercury, and also on the FDA's "do not eat list" for high risk groups like pregnant woman and children was mislabeled.  The report shows the fish was sold under the names of safer fish.  

The group also says cheap, farmed fish was substituted for more expensive fish caught in the wild.

Escolar, a fish nicknamed the Ex-lax fish, is banned in other countries for causing severe digestive stress.  The group says the tests show 84 percent of the time it was labeled as white tuna.  According to Oceana, there is no such thing as white tuna, unless it's tuna in a can.

At Oceana, they believe this is all possible because the fish or seafood changes hands so many times before it ends up on your plate.

"The bottom line is when you see something on the label, you should know that is the fish you're actually getting. And until we have traceability that tracks fish from boat to plate, we think we're going to continue to see this level of seafood fraud in the seafood supply in the United States," said Oceana Campaign Director Beth Lowell.

Oceana did not name any of the restaurants or grocery stores they tested because they were unable to tell where the fraud occurred - at the boat, at the distributor or at the storefront.  But they did give a hint: mislabeled fish was found in a major Atlanta grocery store chain.

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