Study Reveals Seafood Fraud Nationwide

by Charles Miller

Oceana recently published the results of one of the largest seafood fraud investigations in the world to date, collecting more than 1,200 seafood samples from 674 retail outlets in 21 states to determine if they were honestly labeled. Overall, one-third (33%) of the fish samples turned out to be mislabeled.

The testing results showed strong national trends in seafood mislabeling among retail outlets, with sushi venues having the highest fraud levels (74%), followed by restaurants (38%) and then grocery stores (18%). Of the most commonly sampled fish, snapper and tuna had the highest mislabeling rates (87% and 59%, respectively), with the majority of the samples identified as something other than what was purchased. Halibut, grouper, cod and Chilean seabass were mislabeled between 19 and 38% of the time, while lower levels of mislabeling were noted among salmon (7%) and sole (9%).

According to Oceana:

Perhaps most troubling are the health concerns seafood fraud poses for consumers, as several examples from this study demonstrate. The fraudulent substitution of escolar for white tuna can have immediate and serious digestive effects for some people who eat more than a few ounces, which is why the FDA advises against the sale of this species, and other countries have banned it outright. But how would anyone know they are eating escolar when up to 84 percent of it is fraudulently mislabeled as white tuna?

When more than 90 percent of the seafood consumed in the U.S. is imported and less than 1 percent is inspected by the government specifically for fraud, the opportunities for dishonest and illegal practices abound. Without clear and honest labeling for all seafood, consumers are left in the dark about what species they are really consuming, leaving them unable to make informed choices to minimize exposure to contaminants, toxins or allergens.

We agree with Oceana that “[e]nsuring that the seafood sold in the U.S. is safe, legal and honestly labeled should not be a luxury, but a necessity.” Consumers have the right to know more about the seafood they eat and have confidence that the information they receive is accurate. Seafood fraud not only cheats consumers, but it can also have harmful impacts on human health and our ocean ecosystems.

If you feel you have been a victim of consumer fraud, you need an experienced and knowledgeable law firm that can guide you through the legal process and obtain maximum compensation on your behalf. Our lawyers approach every case with the assumption it will be tried to a jury. Whether it’s hiring the right experts, obtaining the necessary records, interviewing the key witnesses or helping our clients get the care they need, our meticulous attention to detail ensures that our clients achieve maximum value for their claim.

In addition, Heygood, Orr & Pearson is AV-rated, the highest legal and ethical rating available from the leading law firm rating service. Our partners Michael Heygood, Jim Orr, and Eric Pearson are all Board Certified in Personal Injury Trial Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. Mr. Heygood and Mr. Orr are additionally Board Certified in Civil Trial Advocacy Law by the National Board of Trial Advocacy. Our partners been voted by their peers as “Super Lawyers” in the state of Texas for several years in a row.*

Contact our attorneys for a free consultation to learn more about your legal rights. You can reach us by calling toll-free at 1-877-446-9001, or by filling out the free case evaluation form located on this page.


Michael Heygood, James Craig Orr, Jr. and Eric Pearson were selected to the Super Lawyers List, a Thomson Reuters publication, for the years 2003 through 2013.