What’s So Bad About Fish?

What’s So Bad About Fish?

What you talkin’ ‘bout Willis?!  Haven’t we been told countless times to eat more fish? Heck, we’ve done posts extoling the virtues of salmon and tilapia right here on SPC. It’s full of heart healthy omega-3 fatty acids without too much of the omega-6 we tend to overload on. It’s an excellent source of protein, much lower in saturated fats than its four legged counterparts. It’s supposed to prevent everything from cancer to strokes and preserve our eyesight and brainpower. But what if the fish you’re eating isn’t actually the fish you think your eating. What if the wild Salmon you ordered off the menu (because you know it’s healthier than farmed) is actually farmed… and not salmon. According to new reports, it’s actually pretty likely.


According to a CBC news report, “While controversy over horsemeat in the European beef and pork supply has captivated people around the world, food experts say Canadian consumers are blasé about mislabeled seafood… ”

DNA analysis shows 33 per cent of fish sold in grocery stores, restaurants and sushi venues in the U.S. is mislabeled, according to a recent study conducted at the Biodiversity Institute of Ontario (BIO) at the University of Guelph.

The result is consistent with a 2011 study by BIO that looked at samples from five Canadian cities, including Vancouver, Toronto, Gatineau, Que., Montreal and Quebec City and found that 41 per cent of fish was mislabeled.”

So while we may do our best to heed nutritional advice and shell out for wild fish over farmed and sustainable choices over more endangered species, what we’re actually getting at the fish market and the big grocery chains is not what we think.  According to that same CBC report, “Among the recent study’s key findings:

Red snapper and tuna are the most frequently mislabeled species (87 and 59 per cent, respectively). only seven of the 120 red snapper samples tested correctly (and) 84 per cent of white tuna samples were actually escolar, which can cause digestive issues for some people.”

CBC spoke to Mike Nagy, a sustainable food systems consultant in Ontario, who warns consumers who fall for seafood mislabeling are not only paying more for lower-grade items, they might also be buying fish that is unsustainable and carry potential health risks. He says it’s very difficult to “make an informed choice.”

So what to do? Give up all the known health benefits of fish or take your chances that what you see is in fact what you get? The best advice we could find: go to a purveyor you trust, build a relationship and ask lots of questions until you feel confident you’re getting the real deal. Or slap on the old hip waders and catch your own dinner… assuming the lake you live near is clean… I need a drink.

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