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70 Types of Seafood Labels Are Falsely Labelled in North America

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Are you being catfished by seafood labels?

In June of 2018, researchers at the University of British Columbia collected 281 samples of fish and other seafood from restaurants and grocery stores. They tested the DNA of these samples to determine the accuracy of seafood labels.

What was the result? Out of the 281 samples collected a total of 70, an equivalent of 25 percent had been mislabelled, either accidentally or intentionally.

  • Snapper and red snapper, were found to actually be tilapia, a much cheaper, farmed fish
  • Halibut and sole, were Sutchi catfish, which is endangered and may contain heavy-metal contaminants
  • Sockeye salmon, which was actually pink salmon and rainbow trout
  • White tuna samples we really escolar, nicknamed as the “ex-lax’’ fish because of the digestive disturbances it is known to cause

Intentional mislabelling can mask concerns about sustainability and human rights.


How are we to make responsible decisions as consumers if we don’t even know what we’re really buying? With a quarter of the seafood in this study being subject to mislabelling, this finding creates a significant problem, which needs our attention!

We deserve the right to know the truth behind our all of our sources of nutrition. When it comes to seafood, we should have the rights to all information including: the species, exactly how it was caught, whether it was farmed or wild, the gear that was used, and where it came from in the world.

Without this information we may be unknowingly exposing ourselves to allergens, toxins and environmental contaminants if we continue to consume mislabelled seafood products.

This fishy business isn’t new either, in 2010 CBC Marketplace discovered that one out of every five fish they purchased in Canadian stores were mislabelled. This was the same result found by Oceana which tested seafood products in Boston supermarkets.

Studies continue to show that in North America, consumers routinely and unintendedly overpay for less desirable, sometimes undesirable, species – or purchase seafood that is simply not what it is advertised to be.


Our planets entire food chain suffers with seafood mislabelling, except the pockets of the culprits.

We all need to be more concerned with this rising issue. Here are 4 Reasons Why You Should Care:

NO.1: We are inadvertently paying higher prices due to this mislabelling of cheaper species

NO.2: These species have both a lower nutritional value and contain potentially higher levels of toxins.

NO.3: Local fishermen have their prices undercut by cheaper fraudulent imports.

NO.4: Our environment suffers as endangered species can be mislabelled, snuck through import bans and then sold to unsuspecting consumers.


Rich in essential fatty acids, and our ideal source of omega-3. Our nutritious seafood sources support the body in numerous ways, they’re a natural anti-inflammatory, support cognitive and cardiovascular health, hormone balancing, healthy skin and optimal brain chemistry.

Typically in our diet, we are prone to a high intake of inflammatory omega-6 fats, which are found in vegetable oil, canola oil, corn oil, soybean oil, safflower oil and sunflower oil in concentrated amounts. Omega-6 is also naturally present in almost every nut, seed and grain, making it very easy (unless you are very aware) to over consume omega-6.

Sufficient intake of omega-3 is essential, or your body many not be transmitting nerve signals properly, which may leave you feeling depressed and anxious while also contributing to higher inflammation levels.

It is ideal for us to consume whole-food omega-3 sources such as wild salmon, arctic cod, atlantic haddock, freshwater trout, pollock and atlantic mackerel (which are the lowest in mercury levels).

While there are plant-based sources such as hemp, flax, pumpkin seeds and walnuts, these ‘ALA’ sources of omega-3 have been researched and clearly indicate that the conversion of ALA to EPA and DHA is extremely limited. Less than 5% of ALA gets converted to EPA, and less than 0.5% of ALA is converted to DHA.

Since your body cannot produce omega fatty acids, regular dietary intake or supplementation with high quality products is essential for our optimal health.


We all need to be vigilant when buying seafood. Dedication to traceability is essential for staying clear of this fishy business and you effort to do so rewards those who work hard to responsibly and sustainably harvest and handle your catch.

So what can we do to ensure we’re buying what we think we’re buying? Here are some helpful tips offered by CBC’s Marketplace:

  • Buy the whole fish. Once they’re skinned and filleted many fish look the same. To know exactly what you are getting consider buying whole fish with the skin and head on, look for bright clear eyes and shiny skin.
  • Smell it. The fish you’re buying and the store you’re getting it from shouldn’t smell fishy. Fresh fish should smell like clean water and there should be no liquid on the fillets.
  • Fresh is not always better. Many shoppers gravitate towards fresh fish at the supermarket, but the best quality seafood is often that which is flash-frozen on the boat minutes after being caught.  If you don’t live near the coast, look for frozen fish that is vacuum-sealed.
  • Ask about your fish. Find out from the retailer where your fish is from and how was it caught. This information can go a long way towards choosing quality fish and making sustainable seafood choices. If they can’t tell you, go to a retailer that can.
  • Eco seal of approval? Eco-labels are a good start in selecting sustainable seafood, but there is not yet one universally accepted certification program. In Canada there are also no nation-wide standards for organic farmed seafood. To learn more about sustainable seafood, check out information provided by conservation groups such Ocean Wise or SeaChoice. They have printable pocket guides and an online database to help you make more sustainable choices.

This article was written by Nicole Eckert, Holistic Nutritionist and the Owner + Founder of Holisticole. Check out her holistic living blog: holisticole.com for amazing clean-eating recipes, informative blog posts and online programs. Stay inspired by Nicole’s passion – follow her on Facebook & Instagram (@holisticole). BE vibrant.

The post 70 Types of Seafood Labels Are Falsely Labelled in North America appeared first on The Hearty Soul.

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