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A Not-So-Fine Kettle of Fish
updated: Jan 11, 2017, 10:12 AM

Source: University of California Santa Barbara

That spicy tuna roll you order at your favorite sushi restaurant may not be tuna at all. And the yellowtail? It could be something else entirely. In fact, according to a new study, as much as half of nine types of fish sold in Los Angeles-area sushi restaurants may be mislabeled, despite tougher laws and increased media scrutiny in recent years.

The marine scientists from UC Santa Barbara's National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis (NCEAS), UCLA, Loyola Marymount University and UC Santa Cruz used DNA markers to identify seafood mislabeling over a four-year period at 26 restaurants and three high-end grocery stores in the greater Los Angeles area. Their findings appear in the journal Conservation Biology.

"The results of this study raise new questions about the efficacy of efforts intended to stem seafood fraud," said co-author Samantha Cheng, a postdoctoral fellow at NCEAS who conducted the research as part of her graduate studies at UCLA. "Time and again, we found one variety or even an entirely different species to be labeled as a different, more commonly known or popular fish."

Read the full story here.

Comments in order of when they were received | (reverse order)

 COMMENT 751126P agree helpful negative off topic

2017-01-11 11:15 AM

And the wasabi they serve may not be real either....


 COMMENT 751137 agree helpful negative off topic

2017-01-11 12:03 PM

Wow.. and this is a surprise?


 COMMENT 751154 agree helpful negative off topic

2017-01-11 01:36 PM

Why not just admit that there isn't enough "wild caught" fish to meet the actual demand, and most of the fish sold nowadays is probably not what it's claimed to be.

Much of the "red snapper" nowadays is actually tilapia, which can be fed feces... Mmm, fish, the other white meat...


 COMMENT 751175 agree helpful negative off topic

2017-01-11 02:45 PM

Ha, @126 - yup, usually it's horseradish. Wasabi root too expensive. Like that green goo in tubes - horseradish and green dye. Delicious green dye.


 COMMENT 751177P agree helpful negative off topic

2017-01-11 02:53 PM

Parasitic infections, poisonings. Yep. SO happy I quit eating animals decades ago.

Humans just don't want to know that we are desecrating our oceans, having fished many species into near or complete oblivion. Is it any surprise that "junk" species of fish are now being labeled and sold as tuna and other desirable "eats"?


 COMMENT 751182 agree helpful negative off topic

2017-01-11 03:23 PM

Within one year of Fuke;15 test tuna caught off west coast; all were "hot". Tuna are at top of food chain, concentrating toxins, and cross the Pacific in only a 4-6 month swim. Truly amazing fish, but no longer are food. Perhaps the "tuna" served being something else, is a good thing.


 COMMENT 751189P agree helpful negative off topic

2017-01-11 04:15 PM

More fantasy Fukushima FUD. The radiation levels detected were equivalent to 1/365000 of what you would get from a single dental X-ray. The mercury content of apex predator fish, a result of our burning coal, is much more of a worry


 COMMENT 751197 agree helpful negative off topic

2017-01-11 05:27 PM

We need some enterprising engineers/biotechs in the industrial section of Goleta to invent a handheld fish scanner, or scanner attachment for iPhone/Android. Something like FLIR for fish. This could be yuge.


 COMMENT 751213P agree helpful negative off topic

2017-01-11 07:39 PM

September 2016

1 in 5 seafood samples mislabeled worldwide, finds new Oceana report


what is Oceana?


 COMMENT 751214P agree helpful negative off topic

2017-01-11 07:40 PM

I guess lots of studies are being done on this.

This has a cool methodology. made me hungry
"The researchers took a novel approach to examining seafood fraud, enlisting the help of nearly 300 undergraduate students at UCLA as part of a marine biology course. The team targeted popular fish used for sushi, including red snapper, yellowtail, halibut, mackerel, salmon and four varieties of tuna: albacore, yellowfin, bigeye and bluefin. Between 2012 and 2015, students ordered these fish at restaurants or purchased sushi-grade specimens from grocers and took samples back to the labs for DNA analysis.


 COMMENT 751246 agree helpful negative off topic

2017-01-12 09:56 AM


I've got the name for this new product:


We can appear on SharkTank to promote it!

"Believe me, folks. It really works!"


 COMMENT 751253 agree helpful negative off topic

2017-01-12 10:37 AM

It would be helpful to consumers if the restaurants and grocery stores were identified!


 RHS agree helpful negative off topic

2017-01-12 10:54 AM

189--you don't get it. Fukushima radiation is being intentionally allowed to discharge into the ocean. That radiation is essentially permanent. We are told that it is so small as to be invisible but we were told that about mercury, DDT, plastic debris, antibiotics in animal waste and hundreds of other things that are going into the seas. Once we believe we could not affect the air and sky. Now we know that was wrong in a big way. The ocean is next unless we stand up and stop these exploitations.


 COMMENT 751269P agree helpful negative off topic

2017-01-12 12:15 PM

The radiation is short-lived isotopes, and has decayed to a very low level by the time it reaches our shores. From a recent scientific survey:

The levels are very low and shouldn't harm people eating fish from the West Coast or swimming in the ocean, according to Ken Buesseler, a senior scientist at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. "To put it in context, if you were to swim everyday for six hours a day in those waters for a year, that additional radiation from the addressed cesium from Japan ... is 1000 times smaller than one dental x-ray," Buesseler said in a phone interview.


 COMMENT 751279 agree helpful negative off topic

2017-01-12 12:49 PM

Nothing new under the sun. 60+_ years ago, in a New England fish factory, my buds would use a sharpened pipe segment to punch sea scallops from the skates that came up with the whiting catch.


 EARO65 agree helpful negative off topic

2017-01-12 12:53 PM

It is not the water that should concern us. Those tuna live off Fukushima part of the year, and come over here the other part. They are top of the food chain (apex), and not only have the radiation they acquired, but also that of all the lesser beings they have ingested. Not only that mess, but also the anti-depressants and other such stuff that flushes out of our toilets and streets. Who, in their right minds, would consider eating them?


 COMMENT 751285P agree helpful negative off topic

2017-01-12 01:09 PM

Again, the isotopes in question short-lived, and thus do not accumulate. The fish cannot commute at jet velocities. Mercury, like DDT and some pharmaceutical compounds, does accumulate. People who worry about the radiation are worried about the wrong threat.


 COMMENT 751305 agree helpful negative off topic

2017-01-12 02:15 PM

Informing the public, good
Telling others how to live their lives, not good


 COMMENT 751331 agree helpful negative off topic

2017-01-12 04:05 PM

182 here; Radiation exposure is cumulative, and therefore there there is no "safe" increase regarding exposure. We stopped eating pacific tuna 6 months after Fuke. We miss tuna and pay high price for canned Spanish, Atlantic tuna rarely for a great tuna fish sandwich or melt. Yes the mercury limits our doing this, we just miss eating tuna regularly, especially raw. EPA is raising "allowable radiation limits" in drinking water by 3500 times. Is that O.K. too?


 COMMENT 751336P agree helpful negative off topic

2017-01-12 04:33 PM

Although exposure is cumulative for ionizing radiation, you don't get that from the barely detectable levels in the fish. And yes, raising allowed exposure when current levels are found to be overly conservative is perfectly rational.

You get much more radiation from the rock outcrops in the Santa Barbara area than from eating fish.


 COMMENT 751409 agree helpful negative off topic

2017-01-13 07:02 AM

Cumulative! Not about comparisons of where you get more, as one can't do much about the rocks/natural background radiation. ANY additional exposure is undesirable. Why raise "overly" conservative" limits anyway? Usually limits are changed because of non-conformance to old limits.....what changed?


 COMMENT 751416 agree helpful negative off topic

2017-01-13 07:51 AM

Why am I not surprised...


 COMMENT 751439 agree helpful negative off topic

2017-01-13 09:09 AM

There is considerable difference between internal and external exposure to radioactive isotopes. Ingestion exposes one to more radiation, particularly if the isotope lodges in the body and is not expelled.


 RHS agree helpful negative off topic

2017-01-13 10:17 AM

It is stunning to listen to people telling us again and again that the scientists know what they are doing and saying even when the scientists fail time and again in protecting us. How many nuclear disaster events are they allowed before we stop them from experimenting yet another time? Nuclear power is not needed, too expensive and much too risky. It has never been economic for society which has to pick up the costs of recovery and containment from Hanford WA to Chernobyl to Fukushima and beyond. Without government insurance and liability limits no company would even build a reactor which means the "free market" has confirmed the failure of this "industry."


 COMMENT 751477P agree helpful negative off topic

2017-01-13 10:24 AM

Scientists don't build nuclear power plants - businesses do. Cost cutting to fund executive bonuses is what kills you.


 RHS agree helpful negative off topic

2017-01-13 10:43 AM

And what is the point of your comment 189? Theory is perfection and practice is perfidy? What choice is there but to trust someone to build these things. And in the end what we find is that experience brings out the errors that the original design failed to account for. While this may be acceptable in manufacturing toasters, it is not acceptable in building things that threaten the earth. Setting aside the existential threat, not one nuclear power system has paid for itself to date. Time to stop.


 RHS agree helpful negative off topic

2017-01-13 10:45 AM

Last comment was meant for 477, not "189." Where did that error come from?


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