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i think this happens more often than people realize. i ordered flounder at a famous seafood chain and the fillet i received looked nothing like the unique shaped fillet of a flounder.

By Elizabeth Weise, USA TODAY

There's something fishy at the seafood counter. Genetic tests indicate that 77% of fish sold as red snapper nationwide are other species illegally mislabeled as the popular entree, according to a new study.

Fisheries experts say that many of the most popular fish and seafood sold are sometimes something else entirely. People paying premium prices for swordfish, for example, often get the much cheaper mako shark.

Scientists at the University of North Carolina sampled fish from eight states - Delaware, Florida, Illinois, Massachusetts, New York, North Carolina, South Carolina and Wisconsin. They found that of 22 samples from fish vendors, only five were actually red snapper, which lives in the Gulf of Mexico. Some were related species, but more than half were from species from other parts of the world or too rare to identify.

The study appears in Thursday's edition of the journal Nature.

"We were all quite surprised and shocked," says study author Peter Marko, a professor of marine biology.

Linda Candler of the National Fisheries Institute says the fish and seafood trade association doesn't believe mislabeling is common. "Frankly, the sample size was too small to be extrapolated to a national level."

But Marko says the researchers suspect a national problem because they found the same widespread mislabeling in each state studied. Even with a 17% margin of error, at least 60% and as many as 94% of the fish were mislabeled, he notes.

And marine biologists have long suspected that many fish in markets and restaurants are mislabeled. "In general, market names may bear little resemblance to what the product really is," says Jane Lubchenco, a professor of marine biology at Oregon State University. Says Joey Ritchie Brookhart of the Seafood Choices Alliance: "For scallops, they'll take a cookie cutter and cut out the flesh on the wing of a skate, which are related to sting rays."

Seafood labeling is regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (news - web sites). A fish sold as one species when it is actually another would be considered adulterated and misbranded, an FDA (news - web sites) spokesperson says. But because of limited resources, the agency's focus is on food safety.

It isn't dangerous, just unfair, he says. "A fresh piece of fish doesn't harm you, but if you're paying for snapper, and you get trash fish, that's not right."
 

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Just like I heard of some places calling sheepies "bay snapper" on their menus!! GRRRR!

MEGABITE
 

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When a snapper isn't a snapper

Lotsa farm raised catfish filllets on the market are indeed farm raised catfish. But they ain't channel cats, and they are farm raised--farm raised in Asia.
 

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Not only from Asia

Sean Hoffmann said:
Lotsa farm raised catfish filllets on the market are indeed farm raised catfish. But they ain't channel cats, and they are farm raised--farm raised in Asia.
But raised in pens in the Mekong River, one of the most highly polluted, raw sewage filled, stinkholes in the world. Yum Yum!

I'll stick to trout I caught, thank you very much! At least it's from American polluted water!
 

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scallops

I've had a problem with them using stringray as scallops since I first heard of it. Call it what it is! I think the FDA should crack down on this.
 

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I ordered a grilled flounder fillet at Trout Street in Port A two years ago and what I got was long and skinny. The meat looked nothing like flounder. I don't know if it was bait and switch or just a mistake, but I haven't been back since and probably never will.
 

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Jeff S

Flounder have 4 fillets on them, not 2. If you got a long, skinny fillet, it probably was flounder. Each fillet is half of one side. They have real white, flakey meat, with small grain texture.
 

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troy merrill said:
But raised in pens in the Mekong River, one of the most highly polluted, raw sewage filled, stinkholes in the world. Yum Yum!

I'll stick to trout I caught, thank you very much! At least it's from American polluted water!
Second that, Troy. Catch what ya eat, eat what ya catch.

Bob
 
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