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Sumthin' fishy

The seafood industry starts a fraud fight. If you’ve ever bought a box of fish that turned out to have been glazed, or coated with water to increase its frozen weight, you’re going to want to know about the Better Seafood Bureau.

The seafood equivalent of the Better Business Bureau, the BSB is a new seafood-industry initiative to wipe out fraudulent practices such as glazing, as well as product substitution (delivering a lower-quality species than was requested) and transshipping (routing fish exports through other countries in order to avoid tariffs). “The companies that operate according to the law were starting to be uncompetitive with companies that were cheating,” says John Connelly, president of the National Fisheries Institute, the Washington-based seafood trade group that’s behind the BSB.

Here’s how it works: if you receive a fraudulent seafood delivery from an NFI member, attempt to resolve the situation with the vendor. If you don’t get results, report it to the BSB at 800-866-4272. Seafood companies with three unresolved complaints will be required to go through an independent third-party audit of their practices.

Prior to launching the BSB, NFI required members to sign a pledge that they would not transship products and mislabel for weight or species. Connelly says about a dozen companies left NFI rather than sign the pledge. But, he adds, 15 to 20 others joined up because of the new standards.

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