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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 nomadic (141991) <[nomadicworld] [at] [gmail.com]> on Sunday November 27, 2011 @07:57PM (#38185146) Homepage
    The seafood industry gets plenty of blame for the state of the oceans, so I would not give them any sympathy.
  • by houstonbofh (602064) on Sunday November 27, 2011 @08:07PM (#38185218)
    I know what country you live in... Squid has been a delicacy for the rest of the world for years. I remember a Portuguese Restaurant with a squid body stuffed with mixed seafood in a cream sauce. It was amazing. Watch "Fear Factor" some time with a world traveler. They will laugh out loud with the "Food Challenges."
  • by goodmanj (234846) on Sunday November 27, 2011 @08:09PM (#38185228)

    Good news, folks! If you live in Massachusetts, it'll soon be easier to find out if you got the right fish from Legal Seafood than it will be to find out whether the right man was convicted by the state legal system!

    http://www.innocenceproject.org/Content/Access_To_PostConviction_DNA_Testing.php [innocenceproject.org]

  • Belief vs. truth (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Menkhaf (627996) on Sunday November 27, 2011 @08:09PM (#38185236)

    '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.

    Nuff' said.

  • by houstonbofh (602064) on Sunday November 27, 2011 @08:10PM (#38185238)
    Nope. That is just old fashioned fraud killing people. There has been a lot of this lately from one nation. From toxic toothpaste to lead painted toys... Simple solution. Buy local food that still looks like the food... It also happens to be green, but I do it anyway.
  • by TubeSteak (669689) on Sunday November 27, 2011 @08:16PM (#38185278) Journal

    If you can't tell the difference, and aren't refraining from something for ethical/religious reasons, why does it matter?

    If that's the case, I have some AAA rated derivatives to sell you.

    Alternatively, fraud is fraud, and we have laws against it because allowing fraud is bad public policy..

  • by Charliemopps (1157495) on Sunday November 27, 2011 @08:18PM (#38185298)
    I doubt 90% of what is sold as "organic" is organic in the "popularly understood sense" as you put it. From Horizons being the largest organic brand in the country, importing the majority of their food from China, to your local farmers market filled with stands that got all their produce at the local grocery store the night before the market opened. There's a sucker born every minute and if you feed them a premise that involves technology being bad and improving their health, they will give you all of their money in very short order.
  • Re:hmm (Score:4, Insightful)

    by artor3 (1344997) on Sunday November 27, 2011 @08:45PM (#38185486)

    People deserve to know what they're paying for. You open the door to all sorts of abuses otherwise.

  • Man in the middle (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Dunbal (464142) * on Sunday November 27, 2011 @08:49PM (#38185508)
    The problem with the man in the middle is the man in the middle. If I don't trust a restaurant to serve me the seafood I want, how can I trust them to not falsify the DNA information? This is an absolutely stupid idea and does nothing to "reassure" people. Stop insisting you want $5.99 all you can eat lobster, and eat somewhere decent for a change. Until you can bring your own independent rapid-test kit and do your own test before your food gets cold, guess what - you still have to trust the damned restaurant.
  • Re:hmm (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Qzukk (229616) on Sunday November 27, 2011 @09:02PM (#38185586) Journal

    Of course not, you just have to test "monkfish" for pufferfish poison. While you're at it, you should test it to make sure it doesn't have stonefish poison, lion-fish venom, Kyphosus fuscus "dreamfish" hallucinogens, or any of the other millions of poisons out there nature invented to kill you.

    Or, you could test to make sure your "monkfish" is monkfish.

  • by mark_reh (2015546) on Sunday November 27, 2011 @09:08PM (#38185650) Journal

    They give you a piece of paper that says it's authentic, but there is nothing that ties the paper to the diamond. And why should we trust "they" either? We all know that it's all a racket with the De Beers cartel keeping diamonds off the market to prop up the price and we should trust them to give us a piece pf paper that has some sort of truth on it? We can manufacture bigger and better diamonds than natural ones, and even CZ are hard to tell from diamonds except by their unnatural perfection.

    Now the fish market has taken a cue from De Beers. They're going to do DNA sequencing and print a certificate to identify species, but what restaurant goers know which species of fish they want to eat and which they don't? It's like the jewelry store showing you a diamond under a microscope. You get the illusion that you know something, but you don't really know if you're even looking at a diamond. And how does the paper DNA test report "attach" to the fish it came from?

    Next it will be wine-marketing- "this particular fish was caught by Mr. X, a 5th generation fisherman, at great risk to his life and limb, and was caught in 234' of water in the Bering sea at 2:37am yesterday. It was prepared by Mr. Y, a fourth generation chef who has studied under Mr. Z for 14 years before finally being allowed to do more than cut vegetables. It was seasoned with the essence of ptanga from Zanzibar..." etc. Today it's on special for only $342.

    The bullshit will just keep piling higher and higher until only the 1% can afford to eat fish.

  • by ChromeAeonium (1026952) on Sunday November 27, 2011 @11:35PM (#38186444)

    I think that's more of a language issue. As far as I know, the organic standards thing is the same in Europe as in the US, it's just that in some European languages they use the term biological. In German the use the prefix 'Bio-', in French they use the term 'biologique,' and I think in Italian the use the word 'biologica'. So basically, Europeans tend to call it biological, but it is the same thing that English speakers call organic.

    It really is a better term when you think about it, because organic in general relies on biologically derived inputs as opposed to chemical ones. And yes, they still do use inputs; the whole 'organic food is pesticide free' thing is simply not true (and even if they didn't, plants naturally produce an order of magnitude more pesticidal secondary metabolites internally then you're going to get from properly applied spray residues). They'll just use fertilizers and pesticides that are derived from naturally occurring sources as opposed to being manufactured (and yes this includes manure [which is probably good to add to the soil every now and again no matter what system you use]), in other words, of biological origin as opposed to chemical.

    The whole thing is a still just clever marketing based on a big idiotic appeal to nature fallacy that serves no purpose other than to separate the gullible and the scientifically illiterate from their money (if it occurs to you that the origin of a substance has no bearing on its chemical properties, then you know more about chemistry & biology than the organic movement) and undermine the integrity of agricultural technology and food science in the public's eye for profit, but the term 'biological' is still better than 'organic.' Not by much I guess since all food is going to biological in nature just like all food is organic but at lest this says something a little more specific about the production practices.

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