Scientists Find Something Fishy in US Diets
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UK: July 15, 2004

LONDON - All is not what it seems in a popular fish supper in the United States. Scientists from the University of North Carolina have found that three-quarters of the fish sold there labeled as Red Snapper is nothing of the sort.

Not only that, but more than half of the falsely labeled Red Snapper, or Lutjanus campechanus to give it its Latin name - a fish found commonly in the Gulf of Mexico - came from nowhere near the area.

Molecular studies of samples of Red Snapper from fish vendors in nine states showed that two of the wrongly labeled fish were Crimson Snappers from the West Pacific, and several others were not native to U.S. waters at all.

Red Snapper was declared as grossly overfished in the Gulf of Mexico in 1996, when the U.S. Department of Commerce called for strict measures to restore stock to sustainable levels.

The researchers, writing in the science journal Nature, said that not only were consumers being defrauded because Red Snapper sold for top prices, but the consequent seeming abundance of the fish on markets could mislead scientists counting stock numbers.

"The remarkable extent of product mislabeling in the case of L. campechanus threatens to distort the status of fish stocks as perceived by consumers, which contributes to the false impression that the supply of fish is keeping up with demand," they concluded.