New York’s Attorney General Focuses on Fish Fraud
Bait-and-switch investigation finds retailers run afoul of consumer protection laws
December 17, 2018 Washington, DC– An investigation by New York’s Attorney General that targeted 155 stores across 29 supermarket brands found mislabeled seafood about a quarter of the time.
The report labeled “Fishy Business, Seafood Fraud and Mislabeling in New York State Super Markets” used DNA testing to determine if what was on the label was actually being sold. After 77 of 286 samples came back mislabeled, New York’s Attorney General, Barbara D. Underwood said, “it’s clear that seafood fraud isn’t just a fluke”
As part of today’s report New York’s Attorney General announced her office would be “taking enforcement action” against at least five supermarkets.
“While disappointed in the report’s findings, the BSB is pleased to see the accompanying enforcement,” said Lisa Weddig, Secretary of the Better Seafood Board. “Here we have regulators putting the focus and effort needed into an investigation that goes beyond a press release. Work that uses new resources and existing laws to track down the source of fish fraud can and will have a real impact in the marketplace.”
The Attorney General’s report included a section on what leads to mislabeling, clearly recognizing the need for a multifaceted understanding of the issue in order to address it. The report notes “intentional fraud,” “negligence” and “mistake/error” can all contribute to mislabeling. But it also highlights that laws already on the books, “hold sellers of seafood and other retail products strictly liable for the accuracy of their marketing representations.”
The Better Seafood Board (BSB) was established by the National Fisheries Institute to provide a mechanism for industry’s partners in the supply chain – restaurants, retail operations, producers and processors – to report suppliers suspected of committing economic fraud.