Biologist Exposes Sushi Restaurants For False Labels For Their Ingredients

Biologist Exposes Sushi Restaurants For False Labels For Their Ingredients

“You are what you eat as the saying goes but if you run some tests on that food – as one biology teacher did with her class – you might find out that what you are is pretty disgusting. Biology professor Dr.Jennifer McDonald asked her college senior class to go out to various sushi restaurants and bring back a sample for their lab assignment, so they could extract the DNA and find out if the fish name on the menu was in fact what it said it was. Not only did the class expose some serious fish fraud they uncovered some other seriously stomach-churning “ingredients.”

Dr. McDonald is a biology professor at Fanshawe College in London, Ontario. Recently she tweeted out an experiment she was conducting with her students to sequence the fish DNA from restaurant sushi and see if the fish matched their menu labels. The educator told Bored Panda she got the idea from Twitter of all places, “I was looking for a way to “spice up” my Molecular Biology labs with a practical exercise that integrated the theory portion of the lab with something that was really hands-on, relevant to today’s biology world, and relevant to what my students may one day be doing as Laboratory Technicians when they graduate. One of the developers of the kit we used from the company Bio-Rad sent me information links and it looked really promising. I ordered a kit for my course, tried it out, and it was incredibly successful (and fun!)

While the educator couldn’t predict all the results, she was familiar with studies on the fish fraud phenomenon, “Fish mislabelling in the seafood and fish industry (even the aquarium industry!) is well-documented and something that many governments are attempting to tackle with stricter rules and regulations, more enforcement, and higher fines. I expected to find results that were in line with what was previously published: about 50% of fish will not be labeled correctly, with some species like red snapper and white tuna being more likely to be mislabelled than others.”

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