/ The Toronto Guide
Toronto — By Katrina Verweel on April 15, 2010 at 5:12 pm
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Sushi Fraud?

Doesn't this look good?

With over a thousand years of history, this typical Japanese-style food has become popular all over the world consisting of bite-sized pieces of rice topped with fish or put into rolls. However, there has recently been quite a bit of buzz in the media in Toronto and other cities around the world claiming sushi fraud is happening in more places than you would think. What is sushi fraud? It is mislabeled sushi at sushi restaurants that claim a specific fish is something that it is not. For example, a common fraud becoming popular is selling tilapia as red snapper. Studies have found that a number of sushi restaurants are doing this, and in a study conducted in the city of Toronto secretly testing 12 sushi restaurants, 10 were selling tilapia as red snapper.

Selling pieces of tilapia as the much more expensive red snapper fish is quite the rip-off, but this is not the only scenario. Beware tuna lovers: Escolar, also known as Snake Mackerel, is often sold as “white tuna” or “butterfish” but is a much more oily fish than most which can commonly cause gastrointestinal stress…you know what I mean… it isn’t pleasant. Escolar can easily pass as tuna, but if you have consumed tuna at a sushi restaurant and have had any nasty after effects from eating the fish, then you can probably assume it wasn’t tuna. This issue poses a health risk to sushi consumers. Also, sushi restaurants could be right on the mark with selling you real tuna, but it could be the endangered bluefin tuna. Worse yet, when many sushi restaurants were confronted, they did not even know the kind of fish it was they were selling as tuna.

Tests and studies that have been done were not only conducted to give these sushi joints a warning to smarten up, but also to produce DNA barcoding technology for wildlife officials to check out fish supermarkets so they are not doing the same thing. The technology has been completed and can now identify based on DNA data, what kind of species of tuna fish markets and sushi restaurants are selling. As a sushi lover myself, I have found this news to be a little upsetting. So next time you have that craving for sushi, make sure you know what it is you’re getting.

Photo credit: VirtualErn


  • Slava says:

    Do you have the names of those 10 restaurants?!?

  • Katrina Verweel says:

    I wish! All of the studies were anonymous and the restaurants complied to the warnings and changed their menus. If they hadn’t, the names would have been exposed.

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