Skip to main content

Session 5, Abstract 30

HIGH LEVEL OF SEAFOOD FRAUD PERSISTS YEAR-TO-YEAR IN LOS ANGELES SUSHI RESTAURANTS

Sofia Esteves*1 , Nicholas Pilaud1 , Sara E. Simmonds2 , Paul Barber2 , Tonya Kane2 , Hayley Nuetzel3 ,Rita Rachmawati2 ,Samantha H. Cheng 2,4 (Demian Willette1,2 ), 1Loyola Marymount University, Department of Biology, 1 LMU Drive, Los Angeles 90045. 2University of California, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Department, 610 Charles E. Young Dr. South, Los Angeles, CA 90095. 3University of California Santa Cruz, Ocean Sciences Department, Santa Cruz, California, 95064, United States 4National Center for Ecological Analysis & Synthesis, University of California-Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara, CA 93101, United States

Seafood mislabeling is a common problem in both domestic and international markets. Previous studies on seafood fraud often report high rates of mislabeling (e.g. >70%). However, these studies are limited to one year of data, making it difficult to assess the impact of governmental truth-in-labeling regulations. In comparison, this study uses DNA barcoding to assess seafood mislabeling in Los Angeles sushi restaurants over a four-year period. DNA barcoding results displayed a consistently high percentage of mislabeling (47%) from 2012 to 2015 in sushi restaurants. Mislabeling was not, however, homogenous across species. Menu-listed halibut and red snapper had a consistently high incidence rate of fraud across sampling years, whereas other fish such as salmon and mackerel were far less likely to be mislabeled. All sampled sushi restaurants had at least one case of mislabeling. Mislabeling of sushi-grade fish from high-end grocers was also identified in red snapper, yellowfin tuna, and yellowtail, but at a slightly lower frequency (42%) than sushi restaurants. This study not only identifies high levels of seafood mislabeling in Los Angeles’ sushi restaurants, but also shows that these rates have remain relatively constant year-to-year despite increased regulatory and media attention to the problem.