59% of the 'Tuna' Americans Eat Is Not Tuna

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Nonprofit ocean protection group Oceana took 1,215 samples of fish from across the United States and genetically tested them in order to bring us the following astonishing facts:

  • 59% of the fish labeled "tuna" sold at restaurants and grocery stores in the US is not tuna.
  • Sushi restaurants were far more likely to mislabel their fish than grocery stores or other restaurants.
  • In Chicago, Austin, New York, and Washington DC, every single sushi restaurant sampled sold mislabeled tuna.
  • 84% of fish samples labeled "white tuna" were actually escolar, a fish that can cause prolonged, uncontrollable, oily anal leakage.
  • The only fish more likely to be misrepresented than tuna was snapper, which was mislabeled 87% of the time, and was in actuality any of six different species.

If you've ever wondered why the sushi in the display case is so affordable, given the dire state of the world's tuna supply, well, now you know.

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Christopher Mims is the science and technology correspondent for Quartz. His work has appeared in Wired and Scientific American, as well as on the BBC.

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