Fish, Fisheries and Queryomics
Woo hoo, says Beel. More mislabeled fish.
Last year, a series of reports by the Boston Globe demonstrated widespread mislabeling of seafood sold in local markets and restaurants.
Now, the Globe reports the Massachusetts Legislature’s Joint Committee on Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure has proposed a bill that will (1) levy fines on supermarkets and restaurants that mislabel seafood and (2) ban the sale of escolar.
This bill has it merits, but strikes Beel as a bit backwards. According to the Globe, businesses caught misrepresenting fish such as Atlantic cod, Atlantic halibut, red snapper, or grey sole could face fines of up to US$800. However, the minimum fine for selling escolar is $400. So, misrepresenting fish as species that are important to Massachusetts fisheries (i.e., cod, halibut, snapper, and sole) is a more serious offense than selling fish (escolar) that will make you ill.
Poor escolar Lepidocybium flavobrunneum, a member of the family Gempylidae, the so-called snake mackerels, will soon be officially Banned in Boston. Escolar has already been banned in Japan and Italy, countries that really know seafood. But in the USA, it’s buyer beware.
Escolar is commonly sold- and intentionally mislabeled- as “white tuna,” but often operates under the alias “the ex-lax fish.” It get’s it’s lovely nom de guerre because the wax esters it contains are not digestible by humans and cause severe gastrointestinal distress in some people. These wax esters reduce the tissue density of the fish and play an important role in regulating the escolar’s buoyancy.
The food blog Medellitin, in a post with a Beel-approved title, “Escolar: the World’s Most Dangerous Fish,” provides best-practices recommendations for safe consumption of escolar and a list of seven tips on “How not to crap your pants.”
Break you off a piece, says Beel. And get moving.