mislabelling (3)

In a move that customers have labelled very fishy, the Chinese government has ruled that rainbow trout can now be labelled and sold as salmon.

The seemingly bizarre move comes after complaints earlier this year that rainbow trout was being mislabelled.

In May, media reported that much of what was sold as salmon in China was actually rainbow trout, to widespread consternation from fish-buyers.

But instead of banning vendors from deceiving their customers, the China Aquatic Products Processing and Marketing Alliance (CAPPMA), which falls under the Chinese ministry of agriculture, has ruled that all salmonidae fish can now be sold under the umbrella name of “salmon”, reports the Global Times.

Rainbow trout and salmon are both salmonidae fish and look quite similar when filleted. However, salmon live in salt water and rainbow trout live in fresh water.

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Oceana, a nonprofit seafood conservation group, did a study back in 2015 and found that 43 percent of the salmon they tested was actually mislabeled.

Most of that salmon fraud ― we’re talking 69 percent of it ― mislabeled farmed salmon as being wild-caught salmon, which is typically more revered. That means you could be paying for a wild-caught Pacific salmon filet, when in fact you’re getting Atlantic farmed salmon.

Other fraud in the salmon market occurs when “one type of wild salmon is substituted for another, like the cheaper chum salmon or pink salmon being sold as a more expensive salmon like coho or sockeye,” Kimberly Warner, chief scientist at Oceana, told HuffPost.

Most of the fraud happens at restaurants.

Oceana found that most of the fraud from their study occurred at restaurants (67 percent vs. 20 percent at big chain retailers). Smaller grocery markets were also often guilty of salmon fraud. Big chain retailers are your safest bet for getting the salmon you actually want. But it isn’t always restaurants or markets pulling a fast one on consumers. 

Sometimes the restaurants and retailers are the victims.

“What we’re dealing with is two different types of fraud,” Gavin Gibbons of the National Fisheries Institute told HuffPost. “One is species substitution, where the retailer or restaurant is the victim. They’re being defrauded because the person selling them the salmon tells them it’s one thing when it’s not. The other side of it is menu mislabeling or just mislabeling in a retail establishment, and that’s when they say it’s wild-caught salmon but they know it’s farmed salmon. So there’s two distinctly different things, but they’re both fraud.”

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