Woman talking(l+r), Sushi(c)

Ground Picture/Shutterstock @katmeowcue/Tiktok (Licensed)

‘There’s so much fish fraud in restaurants’: Woman catches restaurant committing ‘fish fraud.’ Here’s what to look for

'It's banking on you, the customer, not knowing what it's selling.'


Braden Bjella


Posted on Jan 23, 2024   Updated on Jan 23, 2024, 7:55 am CST

“Fish fraud” is more common than you might expect. This refers to the idea that fish are being sold with incorrect labeling, either regarding where it is from or, in some cases, what kind of fish it is altogether.

For example, as noted by Food & Wine, a 2017 study found that “half of Los Angeles sushi wasn’t what it was supposed to be,” and a subsequent 2018 study discovered that “over a quarter of New York supermarket fish was mislabeled.” According to a meta-analysis performed by The Guardian in 2021, which reviewed 44 studies from around the world, “nearly 40% of 9,000 products from restaurants, markets and fishmongers were mislabelled.”

Given its ubiquity, fish fraud is a little difficult to spot in the real world. However, there are still some key elements one can look out for, as TikTok user Kat (@katmeowcue) recently noted.

According to Kat in a video with over 556 thousand views, she was looking at restaurant menus online to find a place for her and her mother-in-law to have dinner. As her mother-in-law is pescatarian, Kat took careful notice of all fish options available at the various restaurants — and discovered something suspicious at a West Village Italian restaurant.

“The first option on their dinner menu is this: Salmone Selvaggio,” she explains. “So, ‘Selvaggio’ means wild, and in the description, it says, ‘pan-seared wild Ora King salmon.’”

The problem? As Kat notes, “There is no such thing as wild Ora King salmon.”

Ora King is a farm-raised salmon in New Zealand. Salmon are not native to New Zealand waters,” she details. “What this suggests to me is that either the restaurant doesn’t know what it’s selling, or it’s banking on you, the customer, not knowing what it’s selling.”

The Daily Dot was able to locate the restaurant in question in the TikTok. However, it seems that word about their error has gotten back to them, as browsing the website for New York’s Palma restaurant now shows their first menu listing as simply “Salome,” writing in the description that it is “sustainably raised” rather than wild. Kat clarified in a comment that she had also reached out to the restaurant about the error.

@katmeowcue #CapCut #fishfraud #wildsalmon #farmedsalmon #kingsalmon #orakingsalmon #consumerprotection ♬ original sound – Kat

In the comments section, users shared their own experiences with fish fraud.

“My mum ordered sole at a restaurant & almost flipped the table when they brought her tilapia, insisting it was sole,” recalled a user. “then [they]  admitted they thought both were the same.”

“You would be shocked how often swai is served as a pricier fish,” stated another.

“Omg I worked at a restaurant in college that served ‘sunfish’ but it was like tilapia from the save a lot down the street,” claimed a further TikToker.

The Daily Dot reached out to Palma via website contact form and Kat via TikTok direct message.

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*First Published: Jan 23, 2024, 9:00 am CST