Today, 5/3/2018, Dr. Oz dissects the popular fish sandwich being sold in many fast-food restaurants. We sometimes choose this over the hamburger thinking we are opting for a healthier meal. But, are we getting what we think we see advertised? And, is it healthier? Is it a whole piece of fish or a mix of fish and other ingredients?
In the 1960’s one fast-food owner in a Roman Catholic neighborhood in Cincinnati noticed his sales dropped on Fridays for hamburgers when the religious abstained from eating meat. This is how the fast-food fish sandwich was born. Others followed suit but the need for all these fish made some search for all kinds to use.
With fish fraud on the rise, is your fast-food fish sandwich safe? Investigative reporter Mara Schiavocampo reveals what restaurants are really serving you. Schiavocampo says most restaurants claim they are using Pollock or Cod which are very healthy choices for fish.
Oz starts the investigation by deconstructing the entire sandwich:
- The bread was low in healthy ingredients and made with bleached white flour.
- The batter layer of the fish soaked up the oils. There were no grilled fish sandwiches anywhere.
- The cheese was processed and full of unhealthy ingredients.
- Tarter sauce had a high amount of calories.
5 pieces of fish from fast food were tested:
- DNA tests 4 out of 5 were made from pollack as advertised.
- One claimed it used North Pacific Cod only but after tests, it contained only Pollock and Hake [cheaper and less demand] and only a tiny amount of cod. Remember, you should get what you are paying for.
- This breakdown could have happened way back in the chain of suppliers. The only way to avoid this is for the seafood to be tracked from the boat to the plate which does not happen.
- Oceania did a fish labeling test and only 1 in 5 gave you what they promised.
Oz released these questions and answers from the National Fisheries Institute:
1. With fish fraud seemingly so prevalent these days, what is the restaurant industry doing to ensure that the fish they purchase is actually what it is supposed to be?
Members of the National Restaurant Association have partnered with the Better Seafood Board to ensure the seafood their members put on their menu is fairly and accurately labeled. The memorandum of understanding provides for menu audits and gives restaurateurs a place to report suspected seafood fraud. This type of cooperation ultimately strengthens consumer trust in establishments that are using all available resources to ensure an honest value chain.
2. Is there testing done anywhere along the supply chain that verifies the species of fish being sold and advertised is actually what is being purchased from fishers, suppliers etc.?
Yes. There is testing done throughout the seafood value chain. DNA testing is common among producers, processors, and distributors. And it’s not just reserved for industry. Regulators, like the FDA, test as well. In fact, the FDA’s DNA testing of fish at wholesale found 85 percent labeled correctly. Vigilance in the marketplace is an important part of stamping out fish fraud.
3. Is there a standard for what percent of a fish patty must be made of fish?
There is no single standard of identity as “fish patty” recipes vary. But FDA’s labeling regulations regarding product name and ingredient lists are strict and inform buyers, suppliers, and consumers about what it is they are getting.
Remember: Natural whole fish should look like the natural cut/shape of fish. If it is square, it usually means it is processed and made of several kinds of fish and other ingredients.
Photo courtesy of Bing.com