A recent study by international ocean advocacy group Oceana revealed that nearly a third of the seafood being sold in South Florida is mislabeled.
The study targeted red and yellowtail snapper, grouper, wild salmon, yellowtail and white tuna, as these are fish regionally significant to Florida, and also because they've had a history of being mislabeled in other studies like these.
The worst offender was king mackerel being sold as grouper. King mackerel is so high in mercury, that pregnant women and other people with certain health restrictions are often told to stay away from it.
Report author and Oceana senior scientist Dr. Kimberly Warner had this to say:
Our results suggest that South Floridians may be receiving a completely different fish than what they’re paying for. Not only does seafood fraud cheat consumers and hurt honest seafood businesses, it also puts our health at risk and undermines efforts to eat sustainably.
As Mike Clary of The Sun Sentinel points out, the state of Florida has rigid inspection guidelines and can audit restaurant invoices to make sure things check out. "Restaurants can be fined up to $1,000 for mislabeling seafood, and its license revoked or suspended." This means that, as Dr. Warner puts it, "something is not working."
For those who may live outside South Florida, before you breathe a sigh of relief about your city's seafood, you should know that similar studies have found even more alarming results in other areas, "We’ve conducted studies like this in other cities, and the results from Los Angeles and Boston were even more striking -- 55% of seafood in L.A. was mislabeled and 48% in Boston."
According to the South Florida report, every single sample of "white tuna" collected from sushi vendors was actually escolar, a fish that Oceana says can make people sick.
Want to know more? Read the entire study "Persistent Fraud Found in South Florida".
11. Blue Plastic Chips Found In Ground Beef
This was by no means one of the most dangerous food safety incidents of the year, but it was <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/08/22/blue-plastic-chips-ground-beef_n_932889.html" target="_hplink">one of the strangest</a>.
10. Metal Fragments Found In Craisins
<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/11/28/craisin-recall-ocean-spray-metal-shards_n_1116417.html" target="_hplink">Metal fragments</a> seem worse than blue plastic chips, right? This one also was non-lethal.
9. Listeria Found In Keebler's Factory
Kellogg's shut down production at its Keebler and Famous Amos factory after listeria was found on the cookies in June.
8. Norovirus Found In Oysters
A shocking <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2011/11/29/three-quarters-british-oysters-norovirus-winter-vomiting-bug_n_1118617.html" target="_hplink">three-quarters of oysters in UK</a> were found to contain food poisoning agent norovirus in a November food safety investigation.
7. Salmonella Found In Pine Nuts
42 people fell sick after eating <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/10/27/wegmans-pine-nuts-salmonella_n_1035091.html" target="_hplink">salmonella-tainted pine nuts</a> bought at Wegman's Supermarkets in October. Two-and-a-half tons of the nuts were then recalled from stores.
6. Radiation Found In Fish
Compared to the human tragedy that ensued after the earthquake and tsunami in Japan early this year, this seems small. But discovering that many fish in the Pacific had been <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/04/06/radiation-in-japans-fish-_n_845546.html" target="_hplink">contaminated with nuclear radiation</a> sent a jolt throughout the entire fishing industry -- and may still have effects on cancer rates down the line.
5. Salmonella Found In Ground Turkey
Dozens of Americans got <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/08/02/ground-turkey-salmonella-california-death_n_916711.html" target="_hplink">salmonella after eating ground turkey</a> from a tainted batch this August.
4. All Sorts Of Food Safety Crazy In China
Multiple deadly food safety incidents <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/08/31/china-food-safety_n_943903.html" target="_hplink">cropped up in China</a> this year -- including one, in February, that affected over 100 schoolchildren, some of whom are pictured above. But the Chinese government struck back against food poisoning in a big way: it ruled that the <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/05/30/china-death-penalty-food-safety_n_868742.html" target="_hplink">punishment for serious infractions would be death</a>.
3. E. Coli Found In Sprouts
When it comes to food safety, early summer and late spring were dominated by one story: Europe's gigantic E. coli outbreak, in which <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/06/01/severity-europe-e-coli-outbreak_n_869715.html" target="_hplink">over 1000 were sickened</a>. Part of the fascination was tied up in the mystery of the outbreak's source... people couldn't figure out the vector of the poisoning until finally scientists isolated one German farm's sprouts as the likely culprit.
2. More Than 150 Die Of Adulterated Alcohol
In what appears to be the deadliest food poisoning outbreak of the year, more than <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/12/16/india-bootleg-booze-deaths_n_1153222.html" target="_hplink">170 people died after drinking adulterated alcohol</a> in one district in eastern India.
1. Listeria Found In Cantaloupes
The deadliest food poisoning outbreak in a century of American history brought the country to its knees, with <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/12/08/listeria-cantaloupe-outbreak-over_n_1137920.html" target="_hplink">dozens dead after ingesting listeria</a> along with cantaloupes from Jensen Farms outside Denver.