Fish fraud in Boston-area supermarkets

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    Fish fraud in Boston-area supermarkets

    Beth Daley's recent survey in the Globe gave Massachusetts supermarkets a pass on labeling fish. However, the next day, the advocacy group Oceana released contrary evidence.

    [ Beth Daley, Fish by another name, Boston Globe, October 23, 2011, at ]

    [ Oceana, Seafood fraud found in Boston-area supermarkets, October 24, 2011, at ]

    For 88 samples tested from three chain supermarkets, 16 were mislabeled (18 percent): cod, sole and snapper. These were among the fish frequently found mislabeled in restaurants by the Globe.

    Oceana used the same testing service as the Globe, at the University of Guelph in Ontario, Canada.

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    Re: Fish fraud in Boston-area supermarkets

    I never buy fish or meat from the grocery store..too many bad experiences.
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    It depends

    Sometimes fish is a good buy at our local Shaw's and Stop & Shop markets. It depends. You need to know your fish and be able to spot fresh fish reliably. We use the fish from the supermarkets to make fish chowders and stews, like sopa de pescado picante, for which it will be tasty enough and provide good nutrition.

    Fish for an entree is a different matter. We go to Wulf's or the fish counter at Whole Foods. They are dependable but expensive places to find good fish, with only an occasional bargain; we have rarely been disappointed there.
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    Re: Fish fraud in Boston-area supermarkets

    Definitely,  I'd be more leary of the restaurants.   In fact why they don't they check out some of the chicken dishes at asian restaurants,  I've been told cat taste just like chicken.  I did a lot of waitress work way back when ... and one thing I learned was,  if you can't clearly identify it ... don't eat it!
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    Degrees of difference

    A reader who works in the fishing industry advocates buying at the docks, but that's rarely a practical option for many of us, who would have to spend an hour or more at the effort and then clean the fish. That reader's observation--markets are more reliable than restaurants--tends to agree with test results from both the Globe and Oceana.

    Oceana faults markets selling real red snapper (Lutjanus campechanus), from the Southeast and Gulf of Mexico, labeled as the cheaper vermilion snapper (Rhomboplites aurorubens), from the same areas. The Globe found the reverse pattern in restaurants, crimson snapper (Lutjanus erythropterus), mostly from Southeast Asia but also found off Hawaii, identified on menus as the more expensive red snapper.

    Both Oceana and the Globe note "Atlantic cod" and not just "cod" on labels (as we would too) and fault a market or restaurant that supplies Pacific cod instead. However, Oceana found two supermarket samples with the reverse issue: supplying Atlantic cod but calling it Pacific cod.

    A distinction that won't be addressed by DNA testing is whether fish is actually fresh or has been frozen (including some Atlantic cod). Recently we enjoyed previously frozen Atlantic cod from Iceland in a fish stew, but we doubted it would have been very successful as baked, stuffed cod.

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    Fish sizes

    There are scrod in the ocean.

    Scrod, market cod, large cod and whale cod just describe different sizes of Atlantic cod. Larger fish usually sell for higher prices per pound.

    At the New Bedford fish auction, standard weights of whole fish are under 4 pounds for scrod, under 10 pounds for market cod and under 25 pounds for large cod. Whale cod are rare. The minimum size of commercial cod catch is by length rather than weight: 22 inches.

    The FDA list of acceptable market names does not allow the use of "scrod" by itself to describe anything but Atlantic cod but does recognize "scrod haddock" to describe small haddock.