Friday, December 7, 2012

Mislabeling Continues

I wanted to share an article about mislabeling seafood in the U.S. and to remind everyone that it continues to be an issue.  In the article posted here, MA restaurants continue to have problems with menu descriptions matching actual product.  Do not be fooled however, this is not a Massachusetts issue.  This is a seafood issue, one that affects every restaurant and market in the United States.  I am 100% sure that mislabeling is occurring in more states than one.  I am not trying to say we have an epidemic on our hands, but I am stating that we have a problem that has not disappeared from our dining tables.

Salesmanship and creative labeling are ingrained into the seafood industry.  Many wild fish are migratory and different areas have different names for the same fish.   A striped bass is a rockfish.  A sable is a black cod.  A wreckfish is a stone bass.  A fluke is a flounder and in some cases a flounder is a sole, be it grey or lemon.  As information becomes more transparent and diners are eager to ascertain more and more information about what they put into their bodies, I feel as though the industry has an obligation to deliver to its customers what they demand; the truth.  The fear of many businesses I believe is that some fish just won't sale under their real label because of a negative perception in the community or customer unfamiliarity.  The problem is, if you never give people a chance by telling them the truth and educating them about product, then the sale is going to be lost before it ever hits the table.

There are so many underutilized species out there that are healthy and sustainable.  There should be no reason to disguise them for more popular items.  And if you are disguising inferior product in order to increase your bottom line, well then I hope this article awakens you to the fact that your time in this industry is limited.  If you wish to avoid being duped as a customer, I recommend getting to know the people that sell you seafood.  Build relationships with them by asking questions about product.  Check out their operation, do they buy whole fish?  Do they offer information about their products?  Is their operation clean?  Money is a representation of resource and resources are limited.  Value getting what you pay for, and that makes the truth an invaluable asset.    

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