January 15, 2017 Leave a comment
How much did you pay for that slice of halibut sashimi? What about those two pieces of red snapper? According to a study published in the journal Conservation Biology on Friday, you likely paid too much. This may be frustrating news for sushi lovers, but it’s good news for flounder lovers: Any time you’ve been served halibut in a sushi restaurant, rest assured that you probably ate flounder. But the problem is much broader than just this one substitution. Demian Willette, of the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of California Los Angeles , and his colleagues found that 47 percent of the samples they collected were mislabeled. That means your odds of getting the sushi you ordered are slightly better than a coin toss.
If you think this is an issue associated with lower-tier sushi joints, think again. Willette and his colleagues had their undergraduate students gather samples over four years from 26 sushi restaurants that were rated highly by customers on Zagat and Yelp in the greater Los Angeles area. They used a genetic testing technique called DNA barcoding, in which particular portions of DNA can be used to identify an individual as part of a species, to verify the identities of the samples. All of the restaurants had at least one incident of mislabeling during the four year period, with an average mislabeling rate of 45.5 percent.