Food Truth Freedom

Your food, where it comes from & what's in it

Getting Ripped Off In A Restaurant

What you see isn’t what you get when you order a restaurant meal.


Because of budget cutbacks, the FDA is only able to test about 3% of all incoming food.     America imports about 86% of the fish it consumes, much of it from Vietnam and China where sanitation and growing conditions are far below American standards.

Restaurant salmon claiming to be “wild caught” probably isn’t. It’s probably not the wild-caught Pacific variety but rather farmed Atlantic salmon.  A 2011 study by the University of Washington of Tacoma reported  after DNA testing that as much as 38% of salmon purported to be wild Pacific was actually farmed Atlantic salmon.

That exotic-sounding Chilean sea bass on the menu is more often than not a rather nightmarish-looking fish called a Patagonian Toothfish.  Asian pangasius (or ponga) frequently passed off as everything from catfish to sole to flounder to grouper.

A Patagonian Toothfish is probably your Chilean Sea Bass

A Patagonian Toothfish is probably your Chilean Sea Bass

Out of about 1,200 samples collected from 674 retail outlets  in 21 states nationwide, seafood was routinely mislabeled about 33%  to 54% of the time. That red snapper in your sushi probably isn’t snapper but could be a cheaper version called “tilefish,” currently on the FDA’s list of “Do Not Eat” – especially for pregnant women and children because of the mercury content.

Consumer Reports tested fresh and frozen fish using DNA samples and the results were not encouraging:

  • Only 4 out of 14 types purchased were labeled correctly:  Chilean sea bass, coho salmon, and bluefin and ahi tuna.
  • 18% didn’t match the labels on menus, in stores on placards.  DNA tests revealed that catfish, sole, lemon sole, grouper, halibut, king salmon, sockeye salmon, red snapper and  yellowfin tuna were most often mislabeled.
  • Of the 10 varieties of “lemon soles,” and half of the “red snappers”  were not found to be what they claimed to be.
  • “Tilefish,” is often substituted for grouper and is a fish to be avoided,  because it has on average 3 times more mercury than grouper, according to the FDA.
  • Consumer Reports has found that 25% of fish is mislabeled.
  • Many times catfish is imported from Vietnam where fish are raised in feces-clogged ponds, treated with drugs that are illegal in the U.S. and live in water infused with pesticide runoff from fields.
  • In Asia where much of tilapia comes from, it’s raised in water that teems with pathogenic bacteria.  Often pig manure is used for feed. It’s cheap but contains salmonella, which makes fish more susceptible to disease.


Your steak my not be a true steak or tenderloin but actually scraps glued together with something called “meat glue” – a blood protein derived from either pork or beef. Read Food, Truth & Freedom’s post on “Meat Glue” for more information.  YUMMY! This also has dietary religious consequences, too.  Those who do not eat beef or pork may be doing so even eating seafood because meat glue is used to bind together crab meat as well as other seafood cuts.


Oceanana Study:  Mislabeling of Restaurant Fish

Forbes: Fake Fish On Shelves

Food & Water Watch:  Seafood Report.


Author: Bernice Matherson

Humanitarian, environmental and food activist, blogging on current societal issues. My blogs cover what's in our food and how it affects our health; the effects of our seemingly small actions regarding chemical and pesticide use in and around our homes and its impact on our Earth.

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