BY BOB HOLT
Those people who have seafood allergies in the New York City area could be facing an increased risk, according to a study by conservation organization Oceana.
The report says that about 40 percent of the fish sold in New York is misidentified, and replaced with a cheaper variety of seafood in many cases.
The New York Times reported that DNA analysis of about 150 samples of fresh seafood from 81 locations in New York found that 39 percent were labeled incorrectly.
The report showed that 13 types of fish, including tilefish, which contains a high level of mercury, were misidentified as red snapper. The Food and Drug Administration advises pregnant women and young children not to eat tilefish.
And white tuna was often substituted with snake mackerel, or escolar, 94 percent of the time. Escolar has a toxin that may cause severe diarrhea after eating a few ounces.
Dr. Kimberly Warner, of the Oceana group said, according to 7online.com, "Somebody needs to ask, where is this fraud taking place? At the retail level? At the wholesale level? We don't really know."
Experts believe that most mislabeling happens at sea, or where distributors cut up the fish. But Abigail Lootens, of New York’s Department of Consumer Affairs, told the Times that stores could be held accountable, saying , “Retailers are under an obligation to correctly identify and label what they sell.”
ABC News noted that other labelings and their substitutions included white bass replacing striped bass, rainbow trout and farmed Atlantic salmon instead of wild salmon or king salmon, and summer flounder and blackback flounder substituted for lemon sole.
According to The Huffington Post, 500 chefs, including Mario Batali, Jacques Pepin and Barton Seaver, have signed a letter sent to the federal government requesting that seafood eaten in the U.S. be traced from "boat to plate."
Massachusetts Representatives Edward Markey and Barney Frank introduced the Safety and Fraud Enforcement for Seafood Act in July, which would require that handlers throughout the supply chain to give details about all seafood, including its scientific name, market name and region where it had been caught.