When teenagers at New York's Trinity School set out to use their genetics schooling to test the fish in local fish markets, they had no idea they were uncovering a potentially vast consumer fraud.
Nearly one-quarter of fish is mislabeled, according to the genetic tests, reported by Reuters. Not surprisingly, the fish label always marked a more expensive fish than the genetic label. (The students just collected the fish; the genetic testing was done by a university lab in Canada.)
More disturbingly, some endangered fish were mislabeled as legal species.
The fish market is confusing enough for consumers who want to make ethical, healthy choices. There's a mind-numbing variety for sale, an equally mind-numbing set of conservation issues associated with declining fish stocks and controversial fishing methods, and still a third mind-numbing controversy about just how much and which fish is best to eat, given the competing health imperatives of eating more Omega-3 fats but avoiding toxic mercury. (Assuming you can trust the labels at the fish market, use Environmental Defense's Seafood Selector to choose fish that's harvested sustainably.)
This is only one batch of tests, from just 60 fish, and it doesn't indicate how widespread the fraud may be. But it's enough that a serious investigation should begin.
Kudos to the students for uncovering the issue. No doubt, they've got the makings of a great college-entry essay, with supporting clips to boot.
Enter your city or zip code to get your local temperature and air quality and find local green food and recycling resources near you.