Lies! South Florida Sushi Restaurants Mislabeled White and Yellowfin Tuna 100 Percent of the Time

Categories: Buyer Beware
Florida Dept. of Agriculture and Consumer Services
The next time you go for happy-hour sushi in Miami, there is a 100 percent chance you will not receive that roll of white tuna sushi even though you paid for it, according to a study released yesterday by Oceana, an ocean conservation group.

Other mislabelings include yellowfin tuna and whitefish. In the new report, titled Persistent Seafood Fraud Found in South Florida, researchers draw their results from 96 random samples from 60 sushi venues collected between December 2011 and January 2012 in the Miami, Fort Lauderdale, and Palm Beach areas.

The report also shows that sushi venues mislabeled their seafood 58 percent of the time, restaurants 36 percent of the time, and grocery stores 8 percent.

Other key findings: Red snapper was mislabeled six out of seven times, with the only correct labeling coming from a sushi venue. Grouper was mislabeled only 16 percent of the time but had one of the most "egregious" substitutions: king mackerel, a fish that federal and state authorities advise pregnant women not to eat because of high mercury levels, according to the report.

When purchasing grouper from stores in Florida, look for the "Fresh From Florida" logo on the package, which is required by law, or simply labeled "grouper" if it comes from other regions.

Another mislabeled fish was Atlantic salmon. It was wrong 19 percent of the time and substituted for wild or king salmon, with Atlantic being farm-raised under controlled conditions. Wild and King salmon is caught in the wild.

Escolar, a fish that can cause health problems if consumed, was substituted for a fish labeled as whitefish or white tuna. Overall, Oceana found that 31 percent of seafood in the Miami/Fort Lauderdale area was mislabeled.

"Not only does species substitution cheat consumers, it also can have conservation and health impacts," wrote the study's authors -- Kimberly Warner, Walker Timme, Beth Lowell, and Margot Stiles.

Follow Short Order on Facebook and Twitter @Short_Order.

Sponsor Content

My Voice Nation Help

First the samples were taken from 60 retail establishments not only "sushi venues". Second the report says "White tuna was mislabeled 100% of the time, as was white fish and yellowtail purchased in sushi venue", yellowTAIL, not yellowfin tuna. Also the yellowtail they tested turned out to be hamachi, but the FDA says the term yellowtail can only be used for one specific species. I also believe the term white fish at a sushi restaurant is used as a description of a generic white fleshed fish, but again the FDA says white fish can only be used for specific fish. The white tuna mislabeling has been going on for years. I equate it to the Chilean sea bass, which is actually a cod. White tuna is just a more marketable name for escolar, and its the sushi morons who don't know, but buying white tuna for this study seem to be stacking the deck since there's a 100% of it being not white tuna. If you remove the white tuna, and change the yellowtail and white fish to labeled correctly and the one Japanese Red Snapper which was madia. Then there was 4 mislabeled out of 24 which is more like 17% for sushi venues. The one problem with this study is that its to small so if one item is mislabeled it ups the % by 3 or 4% points each. They went to 60 retail establishment but only bought 1 or 2 things, it would have been better is they bought 4-5 things from a place.


that's only 100% of the time for the places they visited, how many sushi joints are there in south florida, you think they went to all of them?


still less offensive than trying to pass off american or australian wagyu as kobe beef... as though it were the same as from japan massaged, beer fed, and cared for. As for the fish, chances are if its wrong 100% of the time... its the purveyor not the restaurant... granted the person doing the receiving should know what they are receiving... but faulting the restaurants alone is kind of misleading... know your food source is the best advice.



Hey Jerry, a chef that can't tell one fish from another is inherently lacking the competence to be a trust worthy food provider. More likely, he's in on the scam. Either way, there are two in this tango. 

Now Trending

From the Vault