Fishy business

A 2011 Globe investigation found widespread seafood mislabeling at Massachusetts stores and restaurants. A 2012 follow-up investigation found not much has changed.

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Special report | Fishy business

Accountability lost in murky fish supply chain

Almost every morning, a blue-and-white truck pulls up to The Union Oyster House near Faneuil Hall to drop off small coolers brimming with cod fillets packed on ice. Cod is king at the country’s oldest restaurant — where more than 7,000 diners a year order what the menu describes as freshly-caught New England fish. But the cod brought to tables, and supplied by Boston-based North Coast Seafoods, is not always the local product restaurant executives say they pay for. DNA tests commissioned by the Globe showed it to be Pacific cod, which is usually much cheaper — and to many palates, less tasty.

Pacific and Atlantic cod look similar, but the Atlantic species (right) can cost $4more per pound.

Special report | Fishy business

Many Mass. restaurants still serve mislabeled fish

A year after a Globe investigation revealed widespread fish mislabeling, a new round of DNA testing shows that the problem still exists.

Report fallout

Fishy business

// Bill carries fines for mislabeled seafood

Legislation would impose fines on places that mislabel seafood and make Mass. the first state to ban escolar, known as the “ex-lax” fish.

Special report: Excess ice in frozen fish

2011 report on seafood mislabeling

Restaurants substituted tuna (left) with escolar (right), a less expensive fish that can cause gastrointestinal problems.

Yoon S. Byun/Globe Staff

Restaurants substituted tuna (left) with escolar (right), a less expensive fish that can cause gastrointestinal problems.

Part 1

On the menu, but not on your plate

Massachusetts consumers routinely, and unwittingly, overpay for less desirable, sometimes undesirable, species - or buy seafood that is simply not what it is advertised to be. In many cases, the fish was caught thousands of miles away and frozen, not reeled in by local fishermen, as the menu claimed. It may be perfectly palatable - just not what the customer ordered. But sometimes mislabeled seafood can cause allergic reactions, violate dietary restrictions, or contain chemicals banned in the United States.

Part 2

// Fish supply chain open to abuses

The rampant mislabeling of fish that consumers buy can be largely traced to this: the lack of anything like the regulations imposed on meat suppliers.

606 Congress executive chef Richard Garcia buys fish for the South Boston restaurant through Trace and Trust.

Fish tracking system ensures identity, freshness

The Trace and Trust program is one of several tracking fish from the boat to the customer’s plate as concerns grow over mislabeling of seafood.

// ‘Key West grouper’ in name only

A fish described by T.G.I. Friday's as Key West grouper at hundreds of restaurants across the country was later found to be Vietnamese catfish.

Bertucci’s tries to right a wrong

The story of how hake ended up as cod on the menu at 94 Bertucci’s restaurants is not unusual. But when the chain found out, they decided to fix the mislabeling.