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Something fishy going on with the sushi labeling in LA

Photo by e-wander via Flickr Creative Commons

Today's special: sucker fish.

A new study released by Oceana, an environmental advocacy group, points to a large-scale, widespread mislabeling of seafood in the Los Angeles area, and suggests that fish fanatics are not feasting on the food they think they are.

Seafood samples were collected from LA and OC grocery stores, restaurants and sushi joints in May and December. More than half of the 119 items DNA tested by Oceana were found to be mislabeled under federal law, the report showed. Of the sushi samples studied, almost nine out of 10 were labeled wrong.

The reports shows cheaper fish being passed off as pricier fish, and fish with health warnings being sold under a different name. Oh snap(per).

Eight of nine sushi samples posing as white tuna were actually escolar -- a snake mackerel with an FDA health warning -- and all of the 34 samples of snapper were labeled incorrectly, with consumers actually purchasing anything from tilapia to pollock to rockfish, says the report.

Earlier this year Sen. Ted Lieu, D-Torrance, introduced legislation, sponsored by Oceana, that would require chain restaurants to accurately label seafood by species. California law currently allows 13 species of rockfish to be labeled as "Pacific red snapper," while federal law does not.

The report calls for increased inspection practices.


Lisa Brenner can be reached via Twitter @lisa_brenner