Investigation finds a third of seafood tested on Delmarva was mislabeled

If you’ve ever eaten seafood in Lewes, Ocean City, Onancock, or St. Michaels, there’s a chance that you ate mislabeled fish.

A recent investigation conducted by an environmental organization called Oceana revealed that about a third of the fish tested here on Delmarva were mislabeled. The organization calls the mislabeling, ‘Seafood Fraud.’

Dr. Kimberly Warner, the Senior Scientist at Oceana said, “Seafood fraud cheats consumers. It threatens consumer health and safety.”

Oceana’s investigation revealed that about 20% of the fish tested in our country were mislabeled, and that number was even higher on Delmarva at a staggering 31%.

Dr. Warner said, “Oceana found one third of the establishments we visited sold mislabeled seafood and that included a quarter of the restaurants and small markets that we visited and 12% of the large chain grocery stores sold mislabeled seafood.”

On Wednesday, we spoke to a trusted fish market in Easton for tips on how to make sure that the fish you’re buying isn’t mislabeled.

Keith MacPherson, the owner of Captain’s Ketch said, “Grow to know who you’re buying from and who you can trust to give you what you’re paying for because seafood in general, fresh seafood, has become very expensive.”

As for other seafood markets, MacPherson offers similar advice.

MacPherson said, “Partner or deal with who you know and who you can trust. Usually if it’s cheaper, there’s a reason why it’s cheaper.”

When we asked if MacPherson was surprised that seafood mislabeling was happening on the Shore, he told us he wasn’t.

“It’s sort of sad, but it doesn’t surprise me for the fact that I guess that, terrible to say, but maybe more money to be made, which is awful,” he said.

Moving forward, Oceana wants the government to expand seafood trace-ability beyond the border.

Dr. Warner said, “Trace it all the way from the time it was caught or farmed till the time it ends up in the consumers dinner plate.”

Oceana’s study revealed that establishments here on Delmarva were mislabeling things like halibut, catfish, and sea bass.

As for the rest of the country, Oceana says sea bass and snapper were the most commonly mislabeled at “55% and 42% respectively.”

Oceana did not reveal the names of the establishments that were caught mislabeling.

Scientists who conducted the study tell us seafood goes through a long journey to get to us, so it is hard to identify where exactly the mislabeling occurs.

Categories: Delaware, Local News, Maryland, Virginia