Mystery Fish

Americans spent more than $80-billion on seafood last year - that's up five billion from the year before.

Consumer Reports investigated to find out if the fish you're buying is what it claims to be or some sort of mystery fish.

Kim Kleman with Consumer Reports says, "Our secret shoppers bought 190 samples of 14 different kinds of fish - red snapper, salmon, sole, and others. They went to more than 50 retail stores and restaurants in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut."

Consumer Reports testers packed pieces from each sample and sent them off to an outside lab.

Technicians extracted DNA from each sample to determine what kind of fish it was.

The results? Only four of the 14 types of fish bought were always identified correctly.

The biggest discrepancy? Lemon sole. Of the 10 samples, not one turned out to be lemon sole.

The red snapper purchases also proved problematic. Of the 22 samples, only 10 were actually red snapper.

Kim explains, "Fish passes through so many hands from the time it's caught to the time it's sold that it's hard to tell where the mislabeling occurs, or whether it's intentional. That makes the process very difficult to police."

Consumer Reports findings are in line with other recent studies that show some 20 to 25% of seafood around the world is mislabeled.

But until seafood can be more closely monitored, there really is no way to be sure you're getting what you're paying for.

Current legislation in the Senate would strengthen cooperation among the different federal agencies that oversee seafood safety, including the Food and Drug Administration.

Consumer Reports endorses this legislation as a good first step in more closely monitoring the labeling of seafood.

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