Oceana, the organization that conducted DNA testing and uncovered the fish mislabeling scandal in California, is looking for volunteer sushi detectives to collect DNA samples, according to the website TakePart.
“There’s a huge effort to get people to use their Seafood Watch guides, choose species that are more socially responsible, and often pay more for them,”says Geoff Shester, the California program director for Oceana, which conducted the DNA testing that broke open the scandal.
“Mislabeling fraud means those good intentions aren’t translating into the marketplace, and aren’t rewarding the fishermen that are doing it right,”he says.
Oceana is in the process of testing seafood samples gathered in cities like Portland, Seattle and Chicago, and more cities are planned.
Oceana is recruiting investigators on the ground to help them test fish. Just sign up on their website, and when they’re ready to collect seafood samples from restaurants, sushi joints, and grocery stores in your area, you’ll get an email with details on how to participate.
“We have test kits that we send out to people in the regions we’re testing,”says Beth Lowell, director of the Stop Seafood Fraud campaign at Oceana. “They take samples, send the vials back, and we take them and process them”
TakePart claims Oceana pays for the shipping and the testing, and provides instructions on how to gather your seafood sample. The agency won’t be able to get back with individual responses, but your sample will be used in reports that the group will be publishing later this year.
Writing for TakePart, Clare Leschin-Hoar, whose work has appeared in Scientific American, The Wall Street Journal, and more, suggests the mounting pressure will push more restaurateurs to be more conscientious about the fish they’re serving diners.
“Kristofor Lofgren of Bamboo Sushi in Portland, which has bragging rights on being the first certified, sustainable sushi restaurant in the world, says he feels confident his fish would pass any would-be sushi detectives.”
“We get a lot of our fish in whole, which helps,”he tells TakePart. “And we work directly with trusted suppliers and fishermen to ensure the fish is correctly labeled”