The Washington State Attorney General’s Office says its recent investigation found two Seattle-area sushi restaurants were selling mislabeled fish.
The Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division launched an investigation to test whether Seattle-area restaurants were giving customers the species of fish they ordered.
“The problem is consumers think they’re getting one fish when they’re really getting something different and sometimes there’s a big price difference,” Attorney Shannon Smith said.
Smith says the investigation found Sushi Tokyo in Seattle and Oto Sushi of Redmond sold mislabeled tuna and snapper on multiple occasions.
After sending the fish to a lab, Smith says she found the restaurants labeled sushi as “white tuna” or albacore when it was actually escolar. She also says Sushi Tokyo mislabeled tilapia as “tai red snapper.”
“There’s a list of acceptable marketing names for fish, and if you market a fish that you’re selling something like white tuna, that’s not an acceptable marketing name for a fish. So you’re not allowed to call it that as you market it,” Smith explained. “Consumers are entitled to know what they’re buying and they’re entitled to know what they’re eating.”
The Attorney General’s office says both restaurants have agreed to pay costs and fees for the mislabeling of fish. Sushi Tokyo agreed to pay $4,000 and Oto Sushi agreed to pay $1,500.
I reached out to Sushi Tokyo and the restaurant declined to comment. Oto Sushi sent the following statement:
“After diligently working in good faith with the Attorney General’s office for over a year, it was concluded that our only error was in referring to escolar as “super white tuna,” a marketing term in use by sushi restaurants nationwide, but, apparently, no longer allowed by the FDA. Our use of it wasn’t to be deceptive, but because that’s how our customers ask for it. After significant headache and expense, we are dismayed to learn that the Attorney General has “leaked” their actions to your show in a manner that portrays us in a negative manner. When last speaking to us, they said we passed all their tests with flying colors and complimented us on our business. We shall continue striving to provide our customers with the very best quality and service.” – Oto Sushi