NY Sushi Sleuths Uncover Fishy Tricks

Simple DNA test reveals fish sellers' bait-and-switch
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 22, 2008 3:20 AM CDT
Food regulators have not focused on sushi in the past due to the limitations of testing, but that is set to change with DNA bar coding.   ((c) avlxyz)
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(Newser) – Two New York City high school students used DNA testing to uncover a bait-and-switch scam in local restaurants and fish markets, the New York Times reports. Fish being sold as prized white tuna turned out to be the much more common—and cheaper—Mozambique tilapia, while red snapper proved to be anything from cod to endangered Acadian redfish.

The students sent fish samples to a lab that uses an innovative DNA bar-coding technique developed in part by the scientist dad of one of the sleuths. Bar coding can identify species from a single gene. Scientists say the simplified testing will help amateurs contribute to the sum of scientific knowledge—and might keep seafood sellers honest.