Target: Secretaries John Kerry and Penny Pritzker, co-chairs of the Presidential Task Force on Combating Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing and Seafood Fraud
Goal: Properly label shrimp to keep the public informed about its food choices
According to an October, 2014 study of 111 U.S. vendors, 30 percent of all sold shrimp is misrepresented, leaving consumers misinformed. The Oceana study DNA tested 143 shrimp products from supermarkets, restaurants and shops and found that, regardless of whether it was farmed or caught or what species it was, a huge portion of the seafood was incorrectly labeled and consumers were given very little information about the practices employed in its capture or farming.
Shrimp is the world’s most traded and the nation’s most commonly consumed seafood, and thus, misrepresentation is a serious problem because it is often harvested unsustainably. If consumers don’t know what it is or where it comes from, they can’t track its chain of supply and the practices employed at each stop. Such widespread misconduct also leads to questions about the shrimp’s regulation.
One of the more shocking finds detailed in the report was that vendors were not only trading out one commonly eaten species for another, but often replacing the advertised species with an unknown species or one not known to be in the U.S. market. In fact, an aquarium pet known as a banded coral “shrimp” was found at one location along with other unidentified shrimp. Many products labeled “wild” or “gulf” shrimp were actually found to be farmed whiteleg shrimp.
A major problem found specifically in restaurants was that menus provided little to no information about how the seafood was harvested and where. Not all markets employ sustainable practices and conservation of our oceans is a growing issue that can’t be addressed if the public is not given enough information to make educated food choices.
A government task force dedicated to monitoring and controlling the U.S. seafood market was designated in June 2014 by President Obama, but it seems to be missing the mark in regards to shrimp.
Urge the presidential task force to implement strict traceability and honest labeling of all shrimp products in the U.S.
Dear Secretaries Kerry and Pritzker,
Oceanic conservation is a major priority nationally and globally, with the potential for huge impacts on the planet and our species. That is why, in June 2014, a presidential task force was formed to combat seafood fraud and unsafe practices. According to a recent Oceana study, those problems have yet to be met.
The report reveals that 30 percent of the 111 DNA-tested shrimp across the U.S. were misrepresented by the vendor. Many shrimp products were mislabeled in terms of whether they were caught or farmed, and in many cases even what species they were. The report also showed that there is a serious lack of information available to the consumer about how and where that shrimp was harvested. Without the necessary information, the consumer cannot be expected to make informed, sustainable choices about her seafood.
I urge you to require traceability and honesty in the labeling of shrimp products in the U.S.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: BrokenSphere via Wikimedia Commons