BOSTON (CBS) – Last fall, the I-Team showed how federal officials are cracking down on fraudulent foods sold in grocery stores and served in local restaurants.
One of the biggest problem areas was seafood.
“There are opportunities for fraudsters to get involved if you will, and you know, there are people on the other end who will compromise themselves and that is unfortunate,” said Roger Berkowitz of Legal Sea Foods.
Dr. Amy Kirchner of the National Center for Food Protection and Defense added, “This is a real challenging subject because as the consumer, you are trusting the entire food chain.”
Although Boston has a rich history when it comes to fishing, the majority of seafood we eat no longer comes from waters off our coast. It’s mostly imported from foreign countries.
“It’s not a domestic problem. It’s an international challenge in that our food is sourced from around the world, so we really have to understand international supply chains,” said Dr. Kirchner.
New safety guidelines by the federal government will make traceability a priority, so it is easier to identify who caught the fish, and where. There will also be tougher regulations about labeling fish.
The Obama administration has requested $3 million to beef up enforcement efforts.
The goal is to protect a long standing American industry, as well as consumers, who can be harmed when one type of fish is swapped for another.
Dr. Kirchner explained that one common switch is escolar for tuna. “Tuna is more expensive. It is a more desirable entrée in the grocery store or a restaurant. Escolar on the other hand is a product that causes gastrointestinal problems in people.”
Most of these protective measures will take several years to implement. Some can be done by Executive Order, but others require congressional action.