If you can't beat 'em, join 'em. That's the new mantra for rainbow trout in China, which for years have been mislabeled as salmon and which now are getting an official shrug from authorities on that mislabeling. Even though a recent media expose revealed the fish fraud, new rules will allow rainbow trout to be packaged and sold within China as salmon. The BBC points out the two species' similarities (namely, the pinkish color of their meat), as well as their differences: Their exteriors don't look the same, and trout live in freshwater, while salmon ditch freshwater for salt water after birth. But, per a government fishery group and more than a dozen Chinese fishery companies, they're similar enough to elevate the rainbow trout to salmon status, per the Global Times. Both fish are in the Salmonidae family, with "salmon" being the "umbrella name," the government organization notes on its site.
Most people might not care, except they're scared rainbow trout are prone to parasites. Some consumers have complained of worms in their trout (especially concerning as people in China often scarf their fish raw) and even say the trout have been painted to look more like salmon. SupChina also notes the Qinghai province fishery busted in the expose and responsible for a third of China's salmon output is one of the fisheries involved in the rule change. The China Fisheries Association insists it's all good, as rainbow trout in China are raised in hygienic quarantine. All of this has spurred heated (and often mocking) debate under the #RainbowTroutBecomesSalmon hashtag on Chinese social media. "Let's label the crayfish a lobster instead," one commenter noted, per the BBC. "Can we label seas and lake as the same thing?" another snarked. "They are technically the same." (Read more China stories.)