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Tuesday, December 11, 2012

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Beware White Tuna Sushi

"The dangerous substitution of escolar for white tuna has been documented in New York City eateries in other studies as well. Journalists and scholars have found similar 'white tuna' fraud levels in sushi restaurants ranging from 'nearly all' to 'all.' Not knowing you are buying escolar is particularly troublesome because it contains a toxin, gempylotoxin, which can cause severe gastrointestinal problems ... [and] it has been banned by both Italy and Japan."
—Journalists and scholars from the ocean advocacy group Oceana had a presumably exciting summer testing out the fish of New York City, finding an overall 39% seafood fraud rate (joining LA, Boston, and Miami — 55%, 48%, and 31%, respectively). Red snapper was another particularly problematic one, along with mermaid and piranhaconda, ayyyyyy. <*{{}}><

[via]



72 Comments / Post A Comment

Daisy Razor

The Boston Globe ran an expose last year on seafood labeling fraud and I haven't eaten fish in a restaurant since. It was horrifying.

PatatasBravas

@Daisy Razor I remember that article! (Boston, 48%, what the heck are you guys doing)

...it has not stopped me from eating seafood in restaurants, though I have applied some discretion to which seafoods in which restaurants. Mostly I think it makes the local seafood seller thrilled that buy weird stuff directly and cook it myself. But sometimes I just want someone else to cook and FISH IDENTITIES BE DAMNED.

Lily Rowan

@Daisy Razor And update the other week that it's not any better now!

Daisy Razor

@Lily Rowan I KNOW! I was like, "That's it. I'm only eating fish I've caught from now on."

(Sadly, all the fish I really like are on the "Don't eat or you'll glow in the dark" list anyway.)

MisskristenL

Ugh, I just started eating fish (been a vegan for the past 6 years) and this really freaks me out.

fondue with cheddar

But mermaid is delicious.

Spaghettius!

This is particularly unsettling, as I live in the Mecca of discount sushi eateries, which everyone Who Knows Their Stuff warns you about... and I frequently order white tuna rolls.
It might be time to start ordering chicken. I CAN ORDER THE CHICKEN, RIGHT? No brain parasites in that?

Heat Signature

@Spaghettius! I would almost guarantee brain parasites, to be honest.

leonstj

my rap name is Leon Escolar.

Madeline Shoes

this is very depressing because white tuna is my absolute favorite and my boyfriend prides himself in remembering this every time we order sushi.

Beatrix Kiddo

@Madeline Shoes I actually had always thought that "white tuna" was just the sushi restaurant name for escolar. I didn't even know they were different things!

Beatrix Kiddo

@Beatrix Kiddo OK, upon closer inspection, "white tuna" can either be albacore or escolar. But sushi places that serve albacore almost always call it albacore, and it's not white, and it doesn't look like escolar. I don't really think this is a case of seafood fraud so much as ambiguous naming.

Brunhilde

@Beatrix Kiddo My sushi place has "Escolar (white tuna)" on the menu, so I thought the same. At least I know I've been eating escolar?

Madeline Shoes

@Beatrix Kiddo this just opened a whole new world of sushi confusion that i didn't even know existed!

Heat Signature

The concept of seafood fraud is filled with comedic potential. I'm picturing someone laboring in their basement to create counterfeit lobsters and fake mahi mahi.

wee_ramekin

@Heat Signature All tarting up crawdads in red paint and issuing leis and Hawaiian shirts to tilapia.

Ham Snadwich

Fun fact: The Unification Church controls the majority of the worldwide sushi industry.

kinbarichan

@Ham Snadwich: Whaaaa?!?! Tell me more!

bocadelperro

@Ham Snadwich can you please elaborate on this? I'm dying to know more.

Ham Snadwich

@kinbarichan - So the Unification Church owns True World Seafood (you've probably seen a calendar from True World in your favorite sushi joint), and True World basically has a vertical monopoly where they own fishing boats, processing plants and distribution networks in Asia and the US. The story broke a while ago, but as far as I know somewhere around 75% of US sushi is sold through True World Seafood.

I think this is one of the first articles about it.

Ham Snadwich

@Ham Snadwich - Ooops, meant to link to this article

bocadelperro

@Ham Snadwich wow thanks for following up. looks to be a fascinating read!

Pariah Carey

Escolar is dangerous in large quantities, yes, but a piece of nigiri made with it won't kill ya. Eating it will also make you feel like an outlaw. My favorite sushi joint serves it, but labels it correctly.

TheGirl'sAlright

@Pariah Carey Right?! One of my FAVORITE DISHES at a seafood place here in Austin is escolar and it is regoddamndiculously good. I've eaten it several times and never had a problem--but that is not to say others shouldn't proceed with caution!

Dr Clownius

@TheGirl'sAlright is it DK's on lamar? because their escolar is TO DIE FOR. if you order enough sushi, they just start sending you free plates of it. i saw this article and it made me sad. but i'll probably still eat the escolar.

Beatrix Kiddo

@Dr Clownius My favorite fish market has a warning on the escolar to not eat more than a six-ounce serving. I doubt they're sending you free plates bigger than six ounces, so I'm sure you're fine!

travelmugs

@Beatrix Kiddo Man, this is scary. My parents took me to a seafood place they loved last time I was back home that served escolar filets on the menu. I had never heard of it and the preparation sounded good, so my sister and I both ordered it. I was fine, but she got quite ill, so we did some googling. It's terrifying to me that this place serves it in 8+ ounce portions.

Olive Banana

@travelmugs Two of my friends ordered escolar at one of our favorite restaurants in New Orleans, not knowing anything about it (fish of the day!). They both ate huge, amazingly declious (so buttery! so mild!) steaks of it, and were both subsuqently ill for days. I've since seen it--advertised as escolar, not hidden at all--in a few restaurants around town. Guess New Orleaninans don't know as much about seafood as we thought--I'd never heard of it before!

redheaded&crazy

i found a bone in my spicy tuna roll the other day. it was awful.

redheaded&crazy

@redheaded&crazie it was long and sharp. at least I think it was a bone, maybe it was a shard of glass or something. I must say I didn't examine it ALL that closely.

PatatasBravas

@redheaded&crazie My preferences on food hazards: fish bone > shard of glass > ground glass.

raised amongst catalogs

@redheaded&crazie I once found a bone in my Thai food. I "found" it with my teeth and managed not to break them somehow. It was a chicken dish and I don't know what part of the chicken it was, but it resembled an ammonite and later when I tried to break it into pieces with a hammer, it proved to be indestructible. What WAS that thing?

Megan@twitter

@raised amongst catalogs You brought it home and tried to hit it with a hammer. I love you.

raised amongst catalogs

@Megan@twitter As one does. And I love you back.

KeLynn

@redheaded&crazie -ahhhh! bones in sushi! It happened to me a couple months ago and I still think about it. I forget what roll it was on. But it is way worse than getting a bone in a fish you are eating with a fork off a plate - at least in that situation there's a chance you might catch it first. With sushi, it's just all, "bottoms up!"

liverwortlaura

@raised amongst catalogs YEAH you did.Plus you know what an ammonite is <3

redheaded&crazy

@PatatasBravas yeah I'm preeeetty sure it was a bone ... but it wasn't your usual pliable gentle fish bone that is a non-issue really even if you swallow it. It was hard. And long. And sharp.

And it was from my favourite sushi place! *sobs* Thank god it wasn't my favourite roll otherwise it would have been truly disastrous. As it stands, won't be ordering spicy tuna anytime soon.

OhMyGoshYouGuys

So, what fish can I eat? I avoid tuna for the obvious reasons, but even when I try to buy shrimp or salmon at the health food store, it's always labeled 'farm-raised' which I do not want. (Remembering those news stories about how some farm-raised fish are fed pig feces.) I guess I have to go catch it myself.

meetapossum

@OhMyGoshYouGuys Fish farms remind me of this cartoon.

PatatasBravas

@meetapossum Your icon still freaks me out!

meetapossum

@PatatasBravas Sorry! It shall remain so until the holiday season is over. Then I'll go back to the elected potato.

Also, the more Bon Iver Erotica I read, the more I'm convinced it's actually my dream life. Sad.

barefoot cuntessa

@OhMyGoshYouGuys Do you have a fishmonger in your area? If you're worried about mercury, you want to eat smaller fish like trout and bass. The Monterey Bay aquarium has a free ap you can download. It tells you what is sustainable and low risk.

OhMyGoshYouGuys

@barefoot cuntessa No fishmonger that I know of, just seafood counters, which I don't trust. I'm downloading that app!

PatatasBravas

@meetapossum Obviously you should keep your icon as long as it pleases you. I am just a weirdo on the internet!

Also in my AU fanfic of the 'Pin you are the secret author of all of the BonIver erotica and you're just playing coy with me.

PatatasBravas

@OhMyGoshYouGuys Also if you live inland and are semi-serious about the catching your own option, do some research on the lake you're fishing in! Many lakes have wild and crazy pollution and post limits on the number of fishes you should eat in a day/week.

PatatasBravas

@meetapossum BonIver will protect all of your fish-related interests:

This morning, after our passionate and tender lovemaking, Bon Iver brought me fresh-brewed coffee in a mug he’d carved out of the branch of a tree that fell in the wind. I sipped it while he hummed and assembled his ice-fishing gear.

and

Bon Iver and I are away this weekend, playing tourist. He wears a camera around his neck, but uses it only to photograph me in the hotel shower. We fill our satchels with postcards, which we write to each other and address to our farm. We fill our bellies with fresh fish, pastries and sour local beer.

And we fill our hearts with enriching memories of a few days when our eyes were open to everything, but we saw only each other.

PatatasBravas

Those are way more disgusting than fish-identity theft, actually.

Cat named Virtute

@PatatasBravas Or are we playing koi with you!

meetapossum

@PatatasBravas Actually, there are no fish in my ideal Bon Iver twee life because I don't like seafood.

crocuta

@OhMyGoshYouGuys I second getting the Monterey Bay Aquarium guide. You can get a guide to fish with low mercury here: http://fishwise.org/images/lmc_combined_2011.pdf

In general, wild-caught, American, low-food-chain fish tend to be better than farmed, imported, or high-food-chain fish.

KeLynn

@barefoot cuntessa Thanks for the heads-up about the app!

harebell

is there a fish that gets substituted for salmon?

two of us had a salmon fillet that... did not digest very well at all yesterday. it seems like salmon would be hard to substitute... but who knows?

Inkling

@harebell
My dad (who both outdoorsy and kitcheny) told me that, while salmon is naturally reddish, it gets super dyed in the grocery store because customers pick the brightest color, as if it was a fruit. I guess a restaurant could artificially dye anything and pass it off.

barefoot cuntessa

@Inkling it's true. Some wild salmon are barely red at all. It depends on their diet.

crocuta

@harebell Was it farmed salmon? They're fed weird crap and dyed red, which might make them taste off. There are also multiple salmon species, maybe there's one that disagrees with you? Or maybe it was just old?

Micaela Fischer@facebook

Guess what's hilarious - That fish picture up there isn't a (true) tuna OR an escolar at all! It's a bonito which is commonly substituted for skipjack tuna - usually the canned stuff. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bonito

Was this irony? Did you do a fish substitution picture for a post about fish substitution? God, I hope so!

wee_ramekin

@Micaela Fischer@facebook Heee! I just read the alt-text on the picture (it reads: SHARK), so maybe they did do that on porpoise. (<--not sorry)

par_parenthese

@wee_ramekin I'm just gonna go through and put "HEYOOOOO" after all the fish puns. LONG LIVE FISH PUNS.

wee_ramekin

@par_parenthese Ha! That was easy. It's like shooting fish in a barrel...

frigwiggin

My friend's dad used to work in the fish industry, and she told me once that you should also beware of purchasing scallops unless it's from a reputable fishmonger--some places will punch out rounds of shark meat and sell it as scallop because it's cheaper.

frigwiggin

Which, reading that back to myself, sounds super fishy (heh) and conspiracy-theory-y, but I trust her!

polka dots vs stripes

@frigwiggin gah no!! I love scallops! We called them sea marshmallows when I was a kid (I think it was so that we would actually eat seafood for once...but it worked!). Nothing is sacred, is it?!?

Sea to Table@twitter

You're right, seafood fraud is a scary issue, and all too rampant. But a real conversation about fish labeling has to begin by taking a close look at the supply chain itself.
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/sea-to-table/shining-a-light-on-the-op_b_2237823.html
Ask questions; even though we don't all live next to a dock we can still demand a traceable connection back to the person who caught our fish.

Brunhilde

I just buy my fish in the market two blocks from my office. I just have to watch out for that damn fish they keep throwing back and forth for the tourists' benefit.

***Which reminds me that I was going to go have them ship some crabs to my dad for his birthday! Need to do today. What sort of daughter would I be if I didn't give my dad crabs (that's what it'll say on the card).

dinos

WHITE TUNA IS PEOPLE

hahahaha, ja.

@dinos: WHITE TUNA IS WHITE PEOPLE

Inkling

@hahahaha, ja.
WHITE TUNA APPROPRIATES OTHER CULTURE'S FOOD, RUINS IT.

Inkling

@hahahaha, ja.
WHITE TUNA WON'T STOP TOUCHING ALASKA BLACKFISH'S HAIR.

Inkling

@hahahaha, ja.
WHITE TUNA TAKES UP ALL THE SPACE ON YOUR PLATE AND BLAMES THE RICE ETC FOR FALLING IN THE FLOOR.

Inkling

@hahahaha, ja.
WHITE TUNA WANTS TO KNOW WHEN IT'S WHITE TUNA HISTORY MONTH.

Inkling

@Inkling
AND WHITE TUNA FRIDAY.

hahahaha, ja.

@Inkling: WHITE TUNA THINKS YELLOWTAIL ARE BAD DRIVERS

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