Call to end seafood fraud by Oceana and 500 chefs and restaurant owners

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Sustainable Seafood

Advocacy group Oceana is leading a campaign to end seafood fraud in the United States.

The group was joined today by more than 500 chefs, restaurant owners and culinary leaders in a letter calling on the U.S. government to require that “seafood is traceable in order to prevent seafood fraud and keep illegal fish out of the U.S. market.”

The letter was led by sustainable chef Barton Seaver. It has signatories from nearly all 50 states, including top chefs Mario Batali, Rick Bayless, Daniel Boulud, Thomas Keller, Jacques Pepin, Eric Ripert and Michael Symon — who are all “committed to serving seafood that protects our oceans, our wallets and our health.”

“Seafood mislabeling is one of the most important issues currently facing the culinary industry,” said Seaver, National Geographic Fellow and author of “For Cod and Country.” “It’s an honor to join this list of distinguished names in a plea for a nationwide traceability system that will not only help preserve ocean ecosystems for future generations, but will also increase profits and keep illegal fish out of our restaurants.”

Despite growing concern about where our food comes from, Oceana says consumers are often served mislabelled fish. And it is usually a completely different species than the one they paid for.

Recent studies have found that seafood may be mislabelled as often as 25 to 70 percent of the time for commonly-swapped species like red snapper, wild salmon and Atlantic cod, disguising species that are less desirable, cheaper or more readily available. In fact, Oceana and others have recently found shocking levels of mislabelling in the Boston (48 percent), Los Angeles (55 percent) and Miami (31 percent) areas.

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“These chefs and restaurant owners are taking a stand and saying, ‘Enough is enough. We need better information about our seafood in the U.S. We need traceability,’” said Beth Lowell, campaign director at Oceana. “Tracing our seafood from boat to plate is the only way to ensure that it’s safe, legal and honestly labeled.”

In July, Representatives Edward Markey (D-MA) and Barney Frank (D-MA) introduced the Safety and Fraud Enforcement for Seafood (SAFE Seafood) Act (H.R. 6200). This would help stop seafood fraud by requiring full traceability for all seafood sold in the U.S.

Oceana is currently building support for this important legislation.

To read the letter, and for a complete list of its signers, you can visit: www.oceana.org/chefletter.

To find out more information about Oceana’s campaign to stop seafood fraud, check out: www.oceana.org/fraud.

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