It's like Russian roulette out there, but with seafood.
A startling 46% of seafood samples sold in restaurants and grocery stores in four major Canadian cities were mislabelled, according to a report published Wednesday by the non-profit group Oceana Canada.
Often, low-cost knockoffs were pawned off as fancy fishes; out of a total of 94 samples, all 24 of butterfish, yellowtail and white tuna were mislabelled and over half of the samples labelled snapper was actually tilapia, "a much cheaper" fish.
Furthermore, there were 10 occasions where products labelled butterfish or tuna turned out to be escolar, a fish that "can cause acute gastrointestinal symptoms such as diarrhea, vomiting and nausea and is banned from sale in several countries," according to a news release.
Despite promises to tackle the issue, seafood fraud has been an ongoing problem in Canada. Oceana's multi-year DNA testing study found the Canadian city with the most fake fish was Montreal, where 52% of the samples were mislabelled, though Ottawa and Toronto did nearly as poorly, with mislabelling rates of 50% each.
Sayara Thurston, a seafood fraud campaigner, highlighted the need for better traceability systems to detect foul fish before they hit our dinner plates. "Buying fish shouldn't be a guessing game. Canadians deserve to have confidence in the seafood they eat."
This article's cover image was used for illustrative purposes only.