Sushi Los Angeles
Image Credit: (sakkmesterke/shutterstock.com)

Los Angeles sushi restaurants are mislabeling fish, well at least according to a new UCLA study.

Researchers in UCLA and Loyola Marymount University published a new study examining the genetic types of the fish served at sushi restaurants. In the study, researchers visited over 20 sushi restaurants in Los Angeles from 2012 and 2015 and found 47% of all the sushi were inaccurately labeled. With that being said, researchers discovered that tuna was always labeled as tuna. However, halibut and red snapper were the most commonly mislabeled type of fish.

Researchers also found that this problem started spreading to grocery stores; UCLA scientists explained that this problem may not be the fault of the restaurants and grocery stores. Fish were mislabeled in the shipping process.

The study was published in the journal of ‘Conservation Biology’, researchers explain that mislabeling can be dangerous, especially towards pregnant women. For example, the species Olive Flounder has a high chance of having parasites. In fact, the ingestion of raw Olive Flounder causes food poisoning, which has increased in countries such as Japan, which could be a problem for expecting mothers.

In a statement, UCLA ecology and evolutionary biology professor Paul Barber, explained “Half of what we’re buying isn’t what we think it is.”

Barber added, “Fish fraud could be accidental, but I suspect that in some cases the mislabeling is very much intentional, though it’s hard to know where in the supply chain it begins. I suspected we would find some mislabeling, but I didn’t think it would be as high as we found in some species.”

The Federal Government has imposed stricter regulations regarding the labeling of fish. Via the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, fishing companies are required to accurately report the type of fish they are catching.