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Price Chopper Becomes First Supermarket To Voluntarily Test Seafood For Species Verification

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SCHENECTADY, NY -- Is the seafood you're buying what the label, sign or menu says it is?

Concern is growing nationwide that restaurants, seafood markets and even some supermarkets are selling mislabeled seafood. Consumer Reports found that 18% of seafood samples its researchers collected from retail stores and restaurants on the East Coast last year were mislabeled (December 2011 -- http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/magazine-archive/2011/december/food/fake-fish/overview/index.htm). And, a recent Boston Globe investigation found that 48% of the fish collected from Boston restaurants, seafood markets and grocery stores was sold with the wrong species name (October 23, 2011 -- http://www.boston.com/business/articles/2011/10/23/onthemenubutnotonyour_plate/?page=full).

To provide verifiable assurances for its customers, Price Chopper Supermarkets commissioned a voluntary test of its seafood stock. The objective report's conclusion confirmed that 100% of the fish tested was properly labeled.

Verification is being provided by Therion International, a company based in Saratoga Springs, NY, to which Price Chopper voluntarily submitted more than 150 randomly-selected samples from 15 different fish product lines for testing. In 2004, Therion was the first commercial laboratory to provide DNA-based testing services to verify seafood species identity. Past and present customers have included Bonefish Grill, the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration, Oceana, the Boston Globe, the Chicago Sun Times and many others.

"Price Chopper came to us to develop a testing protocol to help them reassure their customers about their labeling and the quality of their seafood," said William F. Gergits, managing member of Therion International. "Our tests found not one incidence of mislabeling."

Therion employs a DNA testing protocol that examines the DNA code (or sequence) of portions of mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA). All individuals within a given species will share the same mtDNA genetic code. Therion randomly selected fish from the Price Chopper warehouse (in Rotterdam, NY) to conduct the study at their laboratory in the ISES/INVEST incubator facility of Russell Sage College, Troy, NY.

Other studies (of both restaurants and retail food merchants) have found that red snapper and white tuna were among the most commonly mislabeled seafood. Both were tested in the Price Chopper study and were found to be labeled appropriately. News reports cite one of the most common reasons that restaurants, wholesalers, and retailers mislabel seafood is simply to make more money it is more profitable to sell a less expensive fish for one that could cost significantly more, especially if consumers may not notice the difference.

"Our purpose in commissioning a course of scientifically reliable DNA testing on our seafood in addition to our own internal control procedures, is to provide quality assurances to our customers beyond those offered by other purveyors," said Lee E. French, Price Chopper's vice president of seafood. "Our customers already know that they can count on us for seafood variety, freshness, and even meal preparations we fry or steam any seafood purchase free of charge all of which can be physically seen and tasted. Being able to verify the various species of fish that we carry, in much the same way that we document the sustainability of our sourcing, speaks to our philosophical position, as it offers our customers a well-deserved additional peace of mind," he added

"As with our commitment not to add any water or salt to our fresh meat, our comprehensive recall system that utilizes Price Chopper AdvantEdge card data to notify customers about recalls on any products they may have purchased, and our policy never to add fillers or additives to our fresh ground beef, our voluntarily commission of DNA testing on our seafood products clarifies the paramount importance that Price Chopper continues to place on consumer advocacy," said Mona Golub, vice president of public relations and consumer and marketing services.

Price Chopper will hold a live chat to discuss the Seafood DNA testing announcement on its Facebook page (http://www.facebook.com/PriceChopper) on Wednesday, October 24th from 12-1pm. The chat will feature Lee French, Price Chopper's Vice President of seafood and William F. Gergits, managing member of Therion International.

Views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect those of UnderwaterTimes.com, its staff or its advertisers.

Reader Comments

2 people have commented so far. cloud add your comment

i work in seafood at pricechopper and sure "MAYBE" it might be what you ask 4 BUT MANY MANY times they ll sell you seafood thats not so fresh customers arent stupid they see when it looks dried and kinda grayish funky looking at least in the taylor pa store, think the best time to buy is on weds or sunday had bad comments about the bay scallops but just shop at your own risk and get what makes you feel comfortable,since most of everything comes in frozen ur better off getting frozen, the perch looked so gray it was like it died twice- prices are very high too in my opinion, as well as ALOT of customers.
   comment# 1   - paul f · scranton pa usa · Oct 24, 2012 @ 10:04am

the seafood is 4 the most part terrible up in taylor dont know about the other chopper stores,im there 3 yrs,started working with seafood in 1978 so i know a little bit,alot of the employees are miserable back-stabbers to co-workers AND CUSTOMERS behind your back,thats why im trying to find another job worst place to work at all they want is sales THEY DO NOT CARE ABOUT THE CUSTOMERS 4 the most part,trust me, i tell it like it is, thats why they im not a favorite employee but i earned between 36 and 42 stars 4 5 star customer service;you dont have 2 believe me stop by see 4 yourself thank- you;respectfully paul fuller
   comment# 2   - paul f · scranton pa usa · Oct 24, 2012 @ 10:17am
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