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Consumer Reports: Fishy Seafood Labeling Deceives Consumers

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Consumer Reports: Fishy Seafood Labeling Deceives Consumers

American consumers are getting ripped off when they buy fish due to misleading labeling practices, new Consumer Reports research indicates.

More than $80 billion was spent on seafood last year, up $5 billion from what Americans spent in 2009. However, buyers may not be getting what they paid for, with approximately one-fifth of the seafood analyzed by Consumer Reports being mislabeled by the seller.

As the organization notes, this practice is harmful to consumers in a number of ways. It means they are paying high prices for products they don't want, they are losing confidence in the seafood industry and they could be endangering their health.

"Eighteen percent of our samples didn't match the names on placards, labels or menus. Fish were incorrectly passed off as catfish, grey sole, grouper, halibut, king salmon, lemon sole, red snapper, sockeye salmon and yellowfin tuna," Consumer Reports found. "Four percent were incompletely labeled or misidentified by employees."

Due to the prevalence of third-world countries in the seafood market, labeling has traditionally been unreliable. For example, Mexican tuna fishers recently won a legal battle to prevent American fishers from labeling their tuna as being caught using dolphin-safe methods.