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Battling Fish Fraud With DNA Testing

samzenpus posted more than 2 years ago | from the these-are-not-the-eels-you-are-looking-for dept.

Idle 63

itwbennett writes "High demand, high prices, and nearly identical cheaper alternatives is a recipe for fraud. Eel fraud, that is. This has led Japanese researchers to develop a method to cheaply and quickly batch-test DNA by taking small tissue samples from thousands of eels. 'If a non-local eel is found in a batch, more tests will be performed to find the guilty foreigner.'"

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Good for Japan (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39454631)

Here in America, we import loads of cheap food from China. It has lead TWICE to dog food recalls. We now have loads of illegal pesticides being found in our juices due to illegal imports. We continue to ignore what is going on as republicans have a massive hold on America. But good to see that the rest of the west cares about their citizens.

Re:Good for Japan (4, Insightful)

what2123 (1116571) | more than 2 years ago | (#39454797)

While I don't disagree with you points about the FDA-Bullshit and it's ability to fail tremendously the past 5 years, I really think you're off-base completely one-siding it to a "Republican" problem. It's an American problem, which includes the Dems, Repubs, Greens or whatever-you-have-it. The real problem is that both sides know you will "fight" for a side so that you keep ignoring the transfer of power from citizens to that of boards and cronies of the elected few.

Re:Good for Japan (-1, Troll)

noh8rz3 (2593935) | more than 2 years ago | (#39454839)

usually, most problems are from republicans. so it's a pretty safe assumption. that's why we need anonymous - to stand up for internet freedoms!

Re:Good for Japan (1)

Oligonicella (659917) | more than 2 years ago | (#39455103)

Good fucking gods. Do you actually believe what you write? Better yet, do you even read the news?

Re:Good for Japan (0)

noh8rz3 (2593935) | more than 2 years ago | (#39455793)

News? you mean ACTA, PATRIOT, RIAA, drones, lehman brothers, fukushima, katrina, bin laden? do you need more? oh and palin and bush and limbaug and beck and rush. suffish? convinced now?

Re:Good for Japan (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39457291)

I'm convinced that you are trolling.

Disclaimer: I am a liberal.

Re:Good for Japan (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39455239)

usually, most problems are from republicans. so it's a pretty safe assumption. that's why we need anonymous - to stand up for internet freedoms!

Hold on there -- "Just the facts, m'am."

To paraphrase Bill Murray, usually, most problems are caused by "human compost for the planet" who refuse to take personal responsibility and blame others for their problems.

In the U.S., two of the three largest political parties have a plank of personal responsibility. The other party buys votes with social programs that force "someone else" to pay the price for personal irresponsibility. (That 3rd party promoted slavery, founded the KKK, and consistently blocked all Civil Rights legislation for 100 years.)

Even as we speak, high ranking officials from that 3rd party are busy blaming republicans for their own failures.

Re:Good for Japan (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39455071)

You get cheap crap proudly made in the USA too:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/blogpost/post/pink-slime-boycotted-by-grocers-heres-where-you-can-eat-slime-free/2012/03/22/gIQAY3RHUS_blog.html [washingtonpost.com]

Speaking of crap, you know that e. coli problem? If there's e. coli in your beef, that usually means there's literally shit in your beef. The reason it's there is because of poor slaughtering practices. But everyone likes to blame the consumer/chef for not cooking the meat/mince thoroughly. It's just shifting the blame[1] so that they can continue to sell you crap. Same goes for the salmonella problem - one of the reasons why it is a big problem is often because of poor processing practices where one contaminated chicken can contaminate many other chickens.

[1] like that "identity theft" thing- Banks prefer to call it that since if it's "identity theft" it's the customer's problem (or even fault), whereas if you call it "fraud" it's the bank's problem. The customers are just getting screwed.

Re:Good for Japan (1)

mspohr (589790) | more than 2 years ago | (#39457563)

Here in America, we import loads of cheap food from China. It has lead TWICE to dog food recalls. We now have loads of illegal pesticides being found in our juices due to illegal imports. We continue to ignore what is going on as republicans have a massive hold on America. But good to see that the rest of the west cares about their citizens.

The Republicans are the party of "get rid of regulation and the market will take care of it". This is what happens when you weaken regulation. You get contaminated food, air and water and the "market" does not take care of it... people get sick and die.
Nice to see that some places actually care about public health.

Not just Eel (2, Informative)

halfEvilTech (1171369) | more than 2 years ago | (#39454645)

This seems to be a growing problem in both fish markets and sushi shops. Shops are trying to sell off one type of fish as another that looks and tastes similiar. Other issues come from labeling as wild caught vs farm raised.

Take salmon for example. Wild caught will stay pink as it cooks where farm raised will not. But they look the same when raw.

Re:Not just Eel (3, Insightful)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | more than 2 years ago | (#39454837)

Hmmm, if the bad guys sell a piece of a more common fish passing it off as a rarer (sometimes endangered) species, is it necessarily 100% wrong? Doesn't it decrease the price of the rarer fish, thus decreasing the drive of fishermen to hunt it? It's not like the people eating it would die from different taste. (But what do I know, being a man of simple tastes...)

Re:Not just Eel (2)

seifried (12921) | more than 2 years ago | (#39455069)

Yes it is wrong, it's called fraud. There may also be health concerns, e.g. allergies.

Re:Not just Eel (1)

izomiac (815208) | more than 2 years ago | (#39456987)

Generally, people with allergies avoid "fish", not "pacific bluefin tuna", and wouldn't try to eat atlantic bluefin tuna (conservation status of the two aside). It'd actually be rather dangerous to do the trials to determine exactly what is safe and what isn't.

It being fraud is absolutely true. OTOH, personally I wouldn't care if I got "Salmon or similar" so long as it's tasty and safe to eat. Overfishing a specific species for no reason beyond marketing is stupid but profitable. OTOH, when pufferfish gets substituted for salmon, that's bad [msn.com] .

Re:Not just Eel (1)

rtb61 (674572) | more than 2 years ago | (#39457991)

So fraud based upon elitist ego. "Look at me, I'm special I pay a lot of money to eat rare endanger fish because I can afford to do so, even though there is more plentiful fish that taste's much the same."

So wanker's fraud, somehow it all seems rather appropriate ;D. So people feeding their ego instead of their stomach, hmm, what difference does it make, they can still ostentatiously spend large sums on 'elitist' food, after all it's not the food, it's egoistically spending an average families weekly food budget on a single meal for one.

I don't really see the problem, smug show-offs still get to pose about at fancy restaurants and the rest of us get to laugh at them. Isn't it just like wine, most people rate the quality of the wine, not by how it tastes but by how much it costs and how great a victim of marketing they truly are.

Re:Not just Eel (3, Informative)

rtaylor (70602) | more than 2 years ago | (#39455167)

In Japan the opposite was happening just as frequently. The endangered accidentally caught fish was being sold as a commonly available fish.

Re:Not just Eel (1)

demonbug (309515) | more than 2 years ago | (#39455315)

In Japan the opposite was happening just as frequently. The endangered accidentally caught fish was being sold as a commonly available fish.

No kidding. Every time I ordered sashimi over there it tasted like humpback whale.

Re:Not just Eel (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39455813)

In Japan the opposite was happening just as frequently. The endangered accidentally caught fish was being sold as a commonly available fish.

As I understand it, it was endangered/illegal fish being sold as common fish but at rather "wink wink" uncommon prices.

Re:Not just Eel (1)

Jason Levine (196982) | more than 2 years ago | (#39455187)

I think it's a matter of wanting to know what you're eating. If I ask for Tilapia fillets, I expect to be given Tilapia fillets and not some other fish that looks and tastes like Tilapia. I'd bet people would be upset if Supermarkets put store brands on the shelf that looked just like the name brand products (including labels/product name) so that when you wanted to buy Jiffy Peanut Butter you got Store Brand X Peanut Butter instead. Yes, I know store brands are just as good and less money, but it should be up to the customer whether or not they buy a store brand or a type of fish, not a merchant who intentionally mislabels products to increase sales or reduce costs.

Re:Not just Eel (1)

dmomo (256005) | more than 2 years ago | (#39456687)

No. Because it's not the fraud that saves those rare fish. It's a side affect of the fraud. Wrong is still wrong. Once you bring the virtue of side effects into the discussion, you distract from the point. If your point is to save those rarer fist, find a way to do it directly, instead of placing it at the end of a Rube Goldberg device.

Re:Not just Eel (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39459501)

It might not the same, but not taste the same. e.g. Basa looks like Cod.

Re:Not just Eel (3, Informative)

Misanthrope (49269) | more than 2 years ago | (#39454859)

That's not true, the color comes from the same pigment astaxanthin. The amount in the feed determines the color and can be tailored by the farm. Admittedly farmed salmon is horrible and is a bit like raising lions for food...

Re:Not just Eel (1)

halfEvilTech (1171369) | more than 2 years ago | (#39455353)

Alight, I must have misread that somewhere. It has been a long day, but that still doesn't make it wrong to mis-label a product.

Fraud is fraud.

Re:Not just Eel (1)

Ihmhi (1206036) | more than 2 years ago | (#39454899)

Wild caught will stay pink as it cooks where farm raised will not. But they look the same when raw.

What's the difference between the two, aside from whether they were caught in the wild or raised on a farm? Salmon happens to be a type of sushi I enjoy very much.

Re:Not just Eel (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39456395)

Farm raised fish may (not always) be more prone to infections with crowded conditions, they may (not always) have the same levels of nice fish oils that may prevent various illness such as heart disease. Two reasons off the top of my head.

I prefer wild caught. I also think that they may taste different.

Another reason I like wild caught is I like 'real' over 'fake.' For me, that issue started with boobs.
Of course, in the last 100 or so years wild fish populations have suffered severely from overfishing, including the demise of many species. I've eaten more than enough sushi to be a factor.

anonymous fish eater

Re:Not just Eel (1)

HornWumpus (783565) | more than 2 years ago | (#39457175)

If you can squeeze the boobs they are real.

What are they imaginary?

What I object to is nipples that don't become erect after a boob job. How is that a good trade?

Re:Not just Eel (1)

FunkDup (995643) | more than 2 years ago | (#39456469)

What's the difference between the two

Farmed salmon are a bit tasteless from eating pellet feed for most of their lives and not getting enough exercise. Even when they are fed fishmeal they don't get the variety they normally would. They're fed high doses of antibiotics to counteract the problems of keeping them in batteries.

They're bigger though, and cheaper (depending on where you live). And potentially less toxic if they're fed pellets.

Re:Not just Eel (1)

airishtiger (1223838) | more than 2 years ago | (#39459813)

Interestingly enough in japan they eat farm raised salmon more than wild caught. Why? Farm raised salmon can be eaten fresh without risk of parasites. Wild salmon needs to be frozen because of all the time spent in fresh water, it's at risk for contracting worms. A lot of sushi chefs still check their fish for worms the old fashioned way (by eye) but a lot of restaurants and chefs don't want to bother with the risk and just order farm raised salmon so they can serve it fresh every time.

Re:Not just Eel (1)

Hatta (162192) | more than 2 years ago | (#39455127)

I have cooked both wild caught and farm raised salmon. They both remain pink.

BJs (1)

SJHillman (1966756) | more than 2 years ago | (#39454647)

BJs had an article in their last ad thing about how they DNA test all of their fish to verify that its the right species, etc, etc. I assume it's similar to this.

Re:BJs (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39454823)

New headline: DNA Tested By BJs

Re:BJs (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39455285)

New headline: DNA Tested By BJs

I think you've blown a seal.

MP sketch reloaded (3, Funny)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | more than 2 years ago | (#39454667)

"My hovercraft is full of eels."

"DNA testing proves you're lying."

(being led away in handcuffs) "It's a fair cop."

Re:MP sketch reloaded (1)

Samantha Wright (1324923) | more than 2 years ago | (#39454751)

I see you found the guilty foreigner. :)

Kind of funny language... the description could be taken as saying only foreigners would transport fraudulent fish. Oh, xenophobia, you are so hilarious.

Re:MP sketch reloaded (1)

jdgeorge (18767) | more than 2 years ago | (#39454805)

I think it really implies that the fraudulent fish would be imported from outside of Japan. It's not xenophobia, either; it's concern about food safety, and false advertising.

Re:MP sketch reloaded (2)

noh8rz3 (2593935) | more than 2 years ago | (#39454857)

the "foreigner" is a non-domestic eel. syas nothing about the importation source or who is doing it.

Re:MP sketch reloaded (1)

Samantha Wright (1324923) | more than 2 years ago | (#39454963)

I'm well aware; it's just an amusing choice of words with potential awkward misinterpretations. (And the fraud-fish needn't be imported from an entire other country; it could just be anything foreign to a given local population. I imagine fishermen cheating a quota by stealing from another region, even along the same coast, might be cause for alarm.)

Re:MP sketch reloaded (1)

jdgeorge (18767) | more than 2 years ago | (#39455143)

That's true. I guess my point is that it's not just a funny choice of words. There are nearby foreign sources of misrepresented or possibly illegal fish. Plus, the connotation of involving an Illegal Alien person is probably not really an accident.

Re:MP sketch reloaded (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39454957)

My nipples explode with delight!

Re:MP sketch reloaded (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39455805)

Drop your panties, Sir William. I cannot wait until lunchtime!

DNA testing for fish? (5, Funny)

Anne_Nonymous (313852) | more than 2 years ago | (#39454673)

Seems like an eel-conceived idea to me.

Re:DNA testing for fish? (4, Funny)

ddd0004 (1984672) | more than 2 years ago | (#39454737)

Ugh.

You know they never tell you about the downside of being literate. You just have to find out by reading a joke like that.

Re:DNA testing for fish? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39474785)

You just have to find out by reading a joke like that.

What was special about the way you read it?

Can't R.E.S.I.S.T.. (1)

Cragen (697038) | more than 2 years ago | (#39454803)

HOT TUNA!

Re:Can't R.E.S.I.S.T.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39456239)

Don't be a tuna head.

Because I would use it (1)

samazon (2601193) | more than 2 years ago | (#39454875)

In Development: A fish-testing card (think those date rape coasters) that will tell you if your fish is legit. YAY!

Dumb Consumers? (4, Interesting)

crow (16139) | more than 2 years ago | (#39454915)

This sounds a lot like fraud in the wine business, where a relatively cheap wine is relabeled as an expensive wine.

Both in the fish market, and in the wine market, taste tests show that consumers generally can't tell the difference. If consumers were smart, they would have chosen the cheaper product in the first place. However, consumers are often more concerned about the image of the product than the product itself, so they buy the effectively identical more expensive product.

Yes, the fraud is wrong, but I can't say I feel that horrible about it, as the consumer is still effectively getting what they pay for--something expensive that tastes just like something cheap. Perhaps the resources would be better spent worrying about crimes with real victims.

Re:Dumb Consumers? (1, Informative)

bws111 (1216812) | more than 2 years ago | (#39455225)

No, they are not getting what they paid for. There are more considerations other than just taste. Are the health properties of the food the same? Are the environmental impacts of the fishing methods the same? Are the food safety aspects the same? Who is getting the money (and jobs) - local people or foreigners?

Re:Dumb Consumers? (2)

St.Creed (853824) | more than 2 years ago | (#39457683)

IN this particular case, it's very likely the fraudulent fish is the one that's best for the environment :/

Re:Dumb Consumers? (2)

Guppy (12314) | more than 2 years ago | (#39455355)

Both in the fish market, and in the wine market, taste tests show that consumers generally can't tell the difference. If consumers were smart, they would have chosen the cheaper product in the first place.

And not only would they have saved money, they might have gotten less mercury as well. More expensive species of fish tend to be on higher trophic levels.

Re:Dumb Consumers? (1)

cusco (717999) | more than 2 years ago | (#39455459)

Amusingly enough, about the only wines that consumers can consistently tell are definitely better or worse are the homemade wines. I've had two different wine merchants tell me essentially the same thing, neither of whom made their own wines. One told me that my blackberry wine was the best wine that he had ever had (admittedly he was fairly schnockered at the time, but he took the time to look me up later when he was sober). Essentially the almost-free consistently beats the expensive. Tickles my funny bone.

Re:Dumb Consumers? (1)

MickLinux (579158) | more than 2 years ago | (#39457263)

I dunno.... for myself, I prefer the wines made from scuppernog grapes. That has to do with the taste of the grape, as well. Yes, it's a cheap wine. But I could eat the grapes all day long. Oh, and I like the taste of red wines much better than white. I would absolutely hate it if I ordered a red, and they handed me a white, telling me it was red.

Re:Dumb Consumers? (1)

Rich0 (548339) | more than 2 years ago | (#39465715)

I can't really speak to wine but I can talk a little about bread (a side hobby of mine on occasion). It isn't that hard to make bread in your home that is substantially better than just about anything you'll find in a marketplace without travelling a fair bit. Now, you won't get it just by dumping flour in a bread machine, but you can automate quite a bit of it (most of the difference comes from extended fermentation at the right spots in the process, or cold fermentation).

The reason that you can do so much better at home is due to a few factors:
1. Techniques like cold fermentation aren't practical if you scale up. You probably have room for two pounds of dough in your fridge at home, and that fridge can probably cool it down in an hour (especially if you used cold water to make it, and getting a few hundred ml of that isn't expensive at all). Then warming up two pounds of dough consists of setting it on a counter for a few hours. If you try to do the same thing with 2000 pounds of dough it is a whole different ball game chilling that much water, finding space to store it, and then warming it up without running a network of heating tubes through the massive pile of dough.

2. You can make it when you want to eat it. You aren't making 300 loaves and then having to compromise on composition and preservatives to get it to last 3 days on a store shelf. I'll be the first to admit that one of my home made loaves tastes far worse than a store loaf if you allow both to sit for a day before eating it. I typically freeze anything I won't immediately eat (which destroys texture, but leaves taste generally intact).

It doesn't surprise me that other techniques that employ fermentation like wine have similar benefits from being done at home. You can do the extra step that is simple on a few bottles but not on a few thousand, or which can't be done by a machine.

Re:Dumb Consumers? (1)

need4mospd (1146215) | more than 2 years ago | (#39456279)

That's why I only drink Boone's Farm with my store brand fish sticks.

Nearly identical cheaper alternatives? (2)

morphotomy (1655417) | more than 2 years ago | (#39454929)

If the cheaper version is nearly identical then what warrants the high price to begin with?

Re:Nearly identical cheaper alternatives? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39455599)

Rich foodies. This means you, btw.

Re:Nearly identical cheaper alternatives? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39455697)

They made a comic:

http://search.dilbert.com/comic/Foodie

Re:Nearly identical cheaper alternatives? (2)

Abreu (173023) | more than 2 years ago | (#39455839)

Snobbishness, of course!

Mythbusters (not simpsons) did it... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39455333)

This sounds like the testing process the mythbusters used to test hundreds of soda cans for rat pee. They combined many samples together rather than individually testing each can.

So what makes this novel?

I smell a fish sketch in here somewhere... (1)

ccanucs (2529272) | more than 2 years ago | (#39455951)

"That's a haddock you are eating sir"

"I know my fish! It's a cod, not a haddock!"

"No sir I assure you it's a haddock"

"Well, I'm not convinced. Have my plate taken back the kitchen. I want it DNA tested...."

Missing the point (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39458631)

As usual, slashdot misses the point. Fishermen aren't able to selectively catch one kind of fish, they trawl with huge nets and get all sorts of things. By law they have limits on what they can bring back, so the fish that they aren't allowed to take are dumped back into the ocean. Unfortunately they're also already dead, having been caught at depth and brought up into the air. If instead of just dumping them back into the ocean, what harm is it if they brought them to market instead? If fishermen can't sell these fish for what they are and instead have to market them as something else, who cares? Net / net, we all have to eat something.

the price of eel (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39459559)

I am a sushi chef at a restaurant in seattle.

This testing is just one of many reasons why the price of eel has risen from 200$ a case to nearly 400$ in just the past 18 months.

I see a few comments here regarding the taste of farm raised vs wild caught eel here and I can safely say that the taste of eel has almost nothing to do with farm vs wild. It has EVERYTHING to do with how the companies broil the eel and what kind of sauce they use. The real difference is seen in restaurants that get their eel uncooked and broil it themselves in their own sauce instead of using fish cooked on an industrial scale. Just thought I'd straighten that out.

Also FYI, fewer than 2% of sushi restaurants in america broil their own eel. If you're paying less than 10$ per nigiri order you're eating prepackaged / broiled / frozen eel the same as your local safeway sushi joint is using.

the price of eel (1)

airishtiger (1223838) | more than 2 years ago | (#39459727)

The price of eel has gone up drastically in the past 18 months (from 200$ a case to almost 400$) I'm a sushi chef at a restaurant in seattle so for once slashdot has a story relevant to my work (somewhat.) While I'm sure this testing has contributed to the rise in price the real reason behind this is the unsustainability of current farm raising methods (eg, dig a hole in the ground, throw the fry in, raise them, dig another hole etc) it just keeps getting more expensive to find new land to dig new holes to grow them in not to mention they're catching less and less wild fry to raise in the holes. I've seen a few comments here about the taste of farm raised fish vs wild caust and I'd like to set the record straight on eel. (Salmon is a whole 'nother ball game that you could probably write a thesis on) Farm raised and wild eel taste the same. The misconception that wild eel tastes 'better' has nothing to do with how it grows and everything to do with how it's cooked. 98% of sushi restaurants in america all use farm raised, pre cooked, frozen eel. The difference in taste with these typically comes from the sauce the company uses to grill it in and the grilling method (grilled on a stove or roasted in an oven) if the eel looks thin / flat it was probably grilled in a skillet. If it looks thick and plump it was probably broiled. After its cooked in sauce it's packed and frozen and sent to sushi restaurants everywhere where it only needs to be heated a little bit and seared to be ready to eat. Typically when a restaurant orders wild eel they order it frrozen but uncooked. The 'better' taste simply comes from each restaurant using their own unique sauce and grilling method in house. If you were to grill the wild eel using the same industrial methods as the typical farm raised stuff it would taste exactly the same. Mostly all pre cooked frozen brands taste about the same, there are a few brands that are slightly higher in quality (I couldn't tell you which, all the packaging I see is in japanese) but they all cost about the same. You'll know if your restaurant is cooking their own eel because you'll be paying about $5-7 per piece of nigiri vs. The average 3.00 per piece for farm raised. (Your prices may vary depending on your location in the US)

Re:the price of eel (1)

airishtiger (1223838) | more than 2 years ago | (#39459755)

Wow I don't know wat happened but I posted that from my mobile and all the line breaks were removed somehow *sigh* now I just look stupid.
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