Oceana finds mislabeled sushi at 8 Chicago restaurants

February 21, 2013 3:31:41 PM PST
The fish you order at restaurants in Chicago and buy at some grocery stores may not what you think it is.

The group Oceana says a large amount of fish sold is mislabeled.

You get a lot of information about your fish at Dirk's Fish and Gourmet Shop. Not the exaggerated fish tale ? well, you may get a tale or two -- but when it comes to the fish, details about the type and origin are clearly marked.

Another important thing to know what you're getting: Look for the whole fish.

"One way to know you're getting an actual red snapper is to see a red snapper in the whole," said Dirk Fucik.

A survey of fish sold in Chicago by Oceana found:

  • 24 percent mislabeled in grocery stores,
  • 20 percent mislabeled in restaurants,
  • and 64 percent of sushi restaurants had fish mislabeled.

ABC 7 visited Sushi Samba Rio to find the restaurant's master sushi chef cutting a whole hamachi. The international sushi chain works with purveyors to document the authenticity of their fish from the sea to the table.

"We can get as precise as we need to with documentation," said Sushi Samba Rio's Hayes Swope.

The Oceana study found fish called "snapper" were most often mislabeled.

Sushi Samba's director of operations says they start with the whole fish so they can see for themselves they are getting what they paid for and that customers get what they ordered.

"It's very identifying characteristics of the fish that will make it unique," said Swope. "If it comes in in pieces, already fileted and skinned, a lot of the identifying marks are taken away and you're just left with the meat."

Oceana visited eight sushi restaurants in Chicago. The organization reports there was mislabeled fish at all of those restaurants. They won't say which ones, as mislabeling could happen at any point in the distribution.

The good news from this report: All of the salmon they sampled was correctly labeled.