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You Think You Like Salmon Because of a Fish Industry Lie

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Hey, you, what’s your favorite fish? Oh, salmon, that’s cool. Except that “salmon” may not have been what you think it was at all. So what was it?

A new study put out by Oceana deals exactly with that question, and finds that at least 43 percent of the time, the label on your salmon (whether on a package or a menu line item) and the fish that you’re actually eating are not the same.


Just how likely your salmon is to be lie though, depends on which kind of salmon you’re eating. The more specific categories (sockeye salmon, coho) tended to be correct, while the generic “wild salmon” was more likely than not to be something else, whether farmed salmon or another fish altogether.


Image: Chart via Oceana

The most interesting part of the study, though, may actually be what happens when you compare it to the results of a similar study done two years ago, which found almost no fraud at all (just 7 percent). So why did salmon mislabeling suddenly skyrocket? The answer has a little to do with what’s going on with salmon—but much more to do with how food supplies work in general.

The last study was done during the summer. This recent study? It took place during the winter of salmon’s discontent (a.k.a., every winter). Essentially, the last study found almost no salmon fraud because there was a plentiful supply of salmon. When that supply dried up with the season, salmon fraud was suddenly everywhere.

Studies like these often try to focus on finding the “most” mislabeled food, the underlying message being that these are the foods you should be most wary of when you shop or order. But the truth is that food is always a moving target, and the risks and trouble spots, move right along with that.


Top image: MaraZe / Shutterstock