Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
September 17, 2014

One Fish, Two Fish, Fake Dish, True Fish

Never mind what’s coming out of most people’s mouths in this town. It’s getting to be so you can’t even believe what’s going into yours.

“Seafood fraud” — the practice of mislabeling or surreptitiously swapping one fish for another — isn’t just your average bait and switch. It’s an unsavory practice with far-reaching health and economic side effects.

That’s why advocacy group Oceana today is using “The Office” actress Angela Kinsey and cheflebrity and National Geographic Fellow Barton Seaver as bait at a pair of educational events. The first event will be a general debriefing at the Capitol Visitor Center (11:45 a.m.-12:15 p.m.) — Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) is scheduled to attend — detailing the dangers of passing off one type of seafood as another. The second will be a reception at the National Aquarium (6 p.m.-8:30 p.m.) featuring a tasting of sustainable seafood orchestrated by Xavier DeShayes, executive chef at the Ronald Reagan Building & International Trade Center.

According to Oceana, House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) and Democratic Sens. Mark Begich (Alaska), Sheldon Whitehouse (R.I.), John Kerry (Mass.) and Barbara Boxer (Calif.) are already on the hook to meet with them throughout the day.

But before they can feast, solons will have to do some homework.

“Our food system is based on trust, and so consumers must demand that every filet come with a side of the truth,” Seaver said, championing the need for heightened transparency of our aquatic food chain.

Seaver declined to fault a single component of the fishing cycle — “It takes one misrepresentation of product along any step of the chain, and that fraud will then define that fish all the way to the fork,” he asserted — for perpetuating the shady practice, instead challenging everyone to step up.

“The technology to attach accurate information is real and available. The demand for honesty in our food system is strong. The profit incentive to implement such process is evident,” Seaver argued. “It is up to Congress to take the lead on this issue and work with the seafood industry to pass legislation that will ensure truth in our food supply.”

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