Thursday, March 15, 2012

Something's Fishy - Fish Fraud

Next time you see those big, juicy looking scallops behind the fish counter, you just might want to take a second  look.
They might be a lot smaller than they look.
Why? Because a sodium-based compound can bloat scallops to a lot bigger than they actually are.
And then there's that pollock fillet where the price includes the layers of ice, glazed over it to keep it fresh.
This "overglazing" is just another way of saying "fraud" as does the "soaking" of scallops, which can also alter the taste.

The problem with detecting fraud by the soaking or overglazing is that both involve legitimate ways to keep seafood fresh, so it's difficult to tell when someone is being fraudulent.

The soaking of scallops and other seafood, such as shrimp and even whitefish fillets, involves moisture retention agents that keep seafood fresh.
Scallop absorb like a sponge, in fact  they can absorb as much as half its own weight in water. 
The truth about these bloated scallops becomes clear when they hit the frying pan, shrink and their water burns off.

It's widely known that seafood fraud also happens with species substitution, when sellers secretly replace one species with a similar tasting, cheaper fish — like whiting for grouper, or mako shark for swordfish.
Other incidents of fraud of species substitution is where an expensive species such as mahi mahi could be substituted with yellowtail without the knowledge of consumers.

A December test from Consumer Reports found that, of 190 pieces of seafood purchased at retail stores and restaurants on the East Coast, a fifth weren’t what they had claimed to be. 

The fraud may also introduce unexpected toxins or contaminants into the homes of unsuspecting consumers.