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Is the fish you buy really the fish?


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Restaurants & Bars Ontario (inc. Toronto) Fish

Is the fish you buy really the fish?

Flexitarian | | Apr 5, 2010 06:53 AM

I watched CBC Marketplace on Friday night. They had a segment on fish where they bought fish from a number of large grocery stores (such as Metro, Sobey's, Loblaws) and then had them DNA tested at the U of Guelph. They found that 20% of the fish was not what they said it was and it was always a less expensive fish or a stainable one posing as a more expensive or unsustainable one (never the other way around which is oddly self-serving). Haddock was beings sold as cod (which was $3/lb more), farmed Atlantic salmon sold as Wild Pacific salmon, fish labelled merely as 'shark' which ended up being a shark that is not supposed to be sold and so on.

When contacted, the head office of each store blamed human error, which seems hard to believe as how does a box that comes in labelled as one fish mysteriously become another and always a more expensive one. Also, 20% seems quite a high human error percentage.

Marketplace said that the only real way to know what fish you are buy is to buy it with the head on (but even then it's difficult to know, especially with salmon I think).

Although this likely would not stop the mislabelling, the show also suggested that fish be better labelled as to the exact species (for example, not just shark, but what type of shark), origin and method of having been caught in order to better help the consumer choose what to buy.

This show, the article in the Toronto Star from last year that a lot of fish sold in sushi restaurants in Toronto is not what they say it is and a NYTimes article in 2005 that the majority of wild salmon sold in NY City stores was not wild is really disconcerting.

I don't buy any fish at grocery stores in Toronto because I think (maybe erroneously) that they are more prone to mislabelling (either intentionally or not) than fishmongers, but am wondering where Chowhounders buy their fish in Toronto and how do you know it is what you think it is? I've been buying most of my fish at Bill's Lobster as they appear to only sell sustainable fish, they tend to have a lot of wild fish and they only sell a small number of species at any one which they appear to know a lot about.

Bill's Lobster
599 Gerrard St E, Toronto, ON M4M, CA