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The Almighty Buck Science Idle

Restaurants Plan DNA-Certified Seafood Program 174

Posted by samzenpus
from the getting-what-you-pay-for dept.
Restaurants across the globe will soon use DNA technology to reassure customers that they are getting what they pay for. In recent years getting "counterfeit" seafood has become a big problem. In 2007 several people became seriously ill from eating illegally imported pufferfish that had been mislabeled as monkfish. From the article: "David Schindel, a Smithsonian Institution paleontologist and executive secretary of the Washington-based Consortium for the Barcode of Life, said he has started discussions with the restaurant industry and seafood suppliers about utilizing the technology as a means of certifying the authenticity of delicacies. 'When they sell something that's really expensive, they want the consumer to believe that they're getting what they're paying for,' Schindel told The Associated Press."
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Restaurants Plan DNA-Certified Seafood Program

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  • by Fluffeh (1273756) on Sunday November 27, 2011 @08:16PM (#38185282)

    More to the point, fishes that were once considered garbage bait fish, like squid, are now haute cuisine and are on every damn menu. Salmon eggs are often sold as fish-bait, but you put 'em on sushi and their worth is jacked up by hundreds of percents.

    Different fish (and food in general for that matter) have always been a rather location specific taste. In many parts of Europe, Cod is considered very good eating, yet here in Australia it is considered rubbish. Kippers (especially smoked) are good eating in Britain, but you can't get them in many parts of the world. Eastern Europeans (and a few other European countries like Germany and Belgium and Norway) love smoked and pickled Herring. Aside from a few measily jars in the back isle of a supermarket it is almost impossible to find outside of there. The Russians have always loved caviar.

    It isn't so much that what was once rubbish is now considered fine dining, but rather that due to multiculturalism, many foods that were once unpopular in a foreign country are being driven by populations that are made up of many more nationalities.

  • by ShogunTux (1236014) on Sunday November 27, 2011 @08:18PM (#38185294)

    One word: allergies

    For instance, I personally am allergic to ordinary boned fish, but don't have a problem with shelled fish. So if I order crab, it's important to me to know that it's actually crab, and not imitation crab, because one will make me sick, and the other won't.

  • by denzacar (181829) on Sunday November 27, 2011 @08:34PM (#38185398) Journal

    Besides all the smuggling and poaching issues (i.e. poaching endangered tuna species from protected fisheries and selling them as their not so threatened cousins), fraud issues (i.e. selling you bottom of the barrel fish at top quality prices) - the main reason that should concern you and everyone else is right there in the summary.

    In 2007 several people became seriously ill from eating illegally imported pufferfish that had been mislabeled as monkfish.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tetraodontidae [wikipedia.org]

    (Maple) Puffer fish are generally believed to be the second-most poisonous vertebrate in the world, after the Golden Poison Frog. Certain internal organs, such as liver, and sometimes their skin are highly toxic to most animals when eaten, but nevertheless the meat of some species is considered a delicacy in Japan (as æè±s, pronounced as fugu), Korea (as bok), and China (as æè±s he2 tun2) when prepared by chefs who know which part is safe to eat and in what quantity.

  • by PCM2 (4486) on Sunday November 27, 2011 @08:41PM (#38185456) Homepage

    It isn't so much that what was once rubbish is now considered fine dining, but rather that due to multiculturalism, many foods that were once unpopular in a foreign country are being driven by populations that are made up of many more nationalities.

    Actually, it's not so much about "fine dining" as the cycle of once-populous varieties being overfished almost to the point of extinction, forcing the mass-market fisheries to switch to different kinds of fish. The orange roughy craze of a few years ago was a fine example. You wouldn't have seen orange roughy on menus in the 70s or earlier; it's a variety of fish commonly called a "slimehead," and it's really ugly-looking, something like an angler fish. It also doesn't taste like much. That's why they marketed it as a "fine dining" fish, even though it's pretty easy to catch in huge amounts by deep trawling -- because they needed to trump up some reason why you'd actually eat it. Explain away that bland taste as "subtle, delicately flavored flesh," ship the fish to stores already filleted (so the customer never sees the whole fish), and never mention the word "slimehead," and it becomes the new market darling. Of course, as it turned out, orange roughy can live for over 100 years and they don't even begin breeding until they're 20 or 30, so they're incredibly susceptible to overfishing. Hence why you hardly ever see this "miracle fish" on menus anymore;10-15 years into the "craze" and the supplies are already dangerously depleted. On to the next fish.

  • Re:hmm (Score:3, Informative)

    by Ethanol-fueled (1125189) on Sunday November 27, 2011 @08:52PM (#38185528) Homepage Journal
    The people preparing the fish should have known better. The problem is that the monkfish liver (known as "ankimo" in Japanese) is often referred to as the "foie gras" of the sea, and is prepared in a similar manner to its landlocked analog.

    The liver(and gonads, and other organs) of the pufferfish("Fugu" in Japanese), in contrast, are highly toxic and are the reason why only skilled chefs should prepare it.
    It's like going to a bar expecting to be served with Ethyl Alcohol and instead being served with Methyl alcohol. That extra "M" stands for "murder."
  • by Centurix (249778) <centurix@gma[ ]com ['il.' in gap]> on Sunday November 27, 2011 @10:28PM (#38186136) Homepage

    I've been fishing for over 30 years and I can taste the difference between Whiting caught off the Brisbane Bar and Whiting caught further up the sunshine coast. It's subtle, but environment always plays a major role.

    Just on a side note, most Australian Cod don't belong to the Gadus genus, they're closer to perciformes. So they're not really Cod. From memory, they collectively get called Cod, like Murray Cod. You're right though, terrible eating.

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