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Bait and Switch Still a Favorite Policy for Many Seafood Restaurants

About 20 percent of seafood sold worldwide is mislabeled, meaning you may not be eating what you think you are when you sit down to your favorite seafood meal, NBC News reports. The research, compiled by ocean observation group Oceana, is alarming because in the most egregious cases, the “fakes” contained high levels of mercury but were being sold as safer alternatives.

So what can you do to avoid the scam? First, know that healthy eating begins with understanding that the food industry relies on confined animal feeding operations (CAFOs) and fish farms to get meats and fish to market fast, and in great quantities. CAFOs are notorious for being contaminated with pollutants, antibiotics and other drugs, and seafood is no different.

In most respects, fish and shrimp farms are riddled with the same problems as land-based confined animal feeding operations (CAFOs), which include disease-promoting overcrowding, unnatural diets, and environmental pollution. For example, farmed fish — which often are fed genetically modified (GM) corn and soy — can be an unhealthy choice.

For this reason, I recommend avoiding shrimp as well as canned tuna which, according to Oceana is not actually tuna, and become informed about good seafood choices before you visit a restaurant. In stores, look for labels such as “Fishwise,” which identifies how the fish was caught, where it came from, and whether the fish is sustainable (or environmentally threatened) and “Seafood Safe,” which involves independent testing of fish for contaminants, including mercury and PCBs.