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Editor's Note: Cheat, cheat never beat

Property of SeaFood Business magazine
By Fiona Robinson, Editor in Chief
July 01, 2009

Some readers may not be surprised to hear that fraud and theft incidents tend to rise in a recession. Unfortunately, the seafood industry is no stranger to fraud, regardless of economic conditions.

Who hasn't received a proposal letter from overseas offering seafood at a price that seems too good to be true? Therein lies the rub: If a deal seems too good to be true, it probably is. You should probably just walk away - or in this case delete the e-mail in your inbox.

For some, that's a little too easy. This issue's Top Story, The weighting game, discusses the challenges the industry faces in dealing with fraud, an uphill battle that has gone largely unchecked for decades.

As Associate Editor James Wright points out in the article, the Food and Drug Administration won't be increasing import inspections so it's up to the industry to start policing its own - a tall order for an industry rife with fraud. The Better Seafood Board, organized by National Fisheries Institute members a few years ago to act as a watchdog agency, has started to bring some of the seafood fraud issues to light. It's good to see seafood companies have finally realized that turning a blind eye to mislabeling, short weights or transshipping, among other acts of product deception, can come right back and hurt their bottom line.

The National Marine Fisheries Service Office of Law Enforcement has made some progress when it comes to prosecuting import fraud (see Five for fraud, p. 19). But it's largely up to the industry to police species substitution and any other product crimes. While the thought of that is definitely scary, if something isn't done the cycle of illegal activities will grow unabated.

In the end, purchasing seafood comes back to trust. Do you trust the e-mail coming from "Harry," which has a host of typos, but an incredible price on sole fillets? If it makes you reach for the delete key, you're probably headed in the right direction.


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