Monday, December 1, 2014

01/12/2014: Study finds something fishy with shrimp labelling

A good chunk of the shrimp for sale in the US isn't what it claims it is, according to a study released by ocean advocacy group Oceana, WMC Action News 5 reports

About 35 percent of the 111 sales outlets included in the study sold shrimp that was misrepresented - including false labelling, misleading labels and mixed and mystery items that lacked sufficient information for people to make an informed choice about their sources of seafood.

The study took samples of shrimp sold in restaurants and grocery stores in New York, Washington, DC, Portland, Oregon, and several cities on the Gulf Coast and found varying degrees of seafood fraud occurring. 

Sites along the Gulf Coast where researchers collected shrimp for testing included Pensacola and Fort Walton Beach, Florida; Mobile and Orange Beach, Alabama; Biloxi and Ocean Springs, Mississippi; New Orleans and Lafayette, Louisiana, and Houston and Galveston, Texas.

No specific venues were named in the report.

The highest amount of misrepresentation occurred in New York, with more than 40 percent of products containing insufficient and misleading labelling, and the lowest amount in Portland, with only a 5-percent mislabelling rate. 

Knowing the source of seafood is particularly important for those who want to support shrimpers in their area, as well as making environmentally and ethically conscious choices about food consumption.

The report said more than a third of the products labeled as Gulf shrimp actually came from a farm, and some products simply labeled shrimp were actually wild-caught Gulf shrimp.

"Not only does traceability support the local economy, but it also provides consumers with transparency and a unique connection with their seafood," the report stated. 

Among the stranger highlights of the report: A banded coral shrimp, most commonly used as an aquarium pet and not meant to be eaten, was found mixed "with another unidentified shrimp in a bag of frozen salad-sized shrimp" purchased in the Gulf region, the study claimed.

"I've seen cute little cleaner shrimp in aquariums and while scuba diving, but never expected to find one on a grocery shelf,'" said Dr Kimberly Warner, report author and Oceana senior scientist.

Samples from five bags of small shrimp included four instances of mixed-species shrimp, including "species not known to be sold in the US and even several that were genetically unknown to science.” 

The researchers found fraud all across the spectrum from high-priced to low-priced vendors, chains and independent businesses.

The sampling took place in 2013.

"Despite the popularity of shrimp, as well as the associated sustainability, human rights and environmental concerns, US consumers are routinely given little information about the shrimp they purchase, making it nearly impossible to find and follow sound sustainability recommendations," the report stated.

Experts at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch consider US and Canadian wild shrimp, with certain exceptions, more sustainable than farmed shrimp imported from overseas. 

Read the original article HERE.

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