Fishing for the Truth

In light of widespread fraud, activists seek honest labeling


Looking over a typical day’s selection at the fishmonger, you might notice that the light pink flesh of a fluke, $12 per pound, looks remarkably like that of the pricier sole, at $16 per pound, right beside it. In fact, the two fillets could be swapped for each other and no one would know the difference. Unfortunately, this kind of seafood fraud happens much more often than you probably think.

This year, Oceana, an ocean conservation group, began reporting findings from its ongoing seafood labeling investigations. In July, Oceana found that nearly one third of 60 South Florida restaurants had mislabeled their seafood. In Los Angeles, Oceana found 55 percent of seafood had been mislabeled and in Boston, almost half (48 percent) had been mislabeled. Of 76 fish samples collected from 58 restaurants, 76 percent of samples had been mislabeled. When working with the Monterey County Weekly, Oceana also found that 7 out of 19 seafood samples (36 percent) were incorrectly identified. MORE


High Steaks

That $40 filet mignon is about to get even pricier


A few months ago, Garth Weldon made a tough call. As the managing partner at Philadelphia’s The Prime Rib, he saw rising beef prices eating up his already narrow margins. He tried to cut back everywhere he could, but ultimately he did what restaurateurs hate to do: he raised prices. The full prime rib went from $49 to $53, and the restaurant’s annual “15 for 15” promotion, where customers could get 15 ounces of prime rib for $15, went up by $5 to become “15 for 20.”

And that was before the Midwest drought.

Now, after the drought has decimated the corn crop used to feed most of the US beef supply, the United States Department of Agriculture is predicting beef prices will rise by at least 5 percent next year. For steakhouses like The Prime Rib, that means even more overhead, which means another menu price hike could loom on the horizon.

“Restaurateurs are always reluctant to raise prices,” Weldon says, “but you have to.” MORE

Soda Week

State of the Soda Ban

There's a culture war brewing over soft drinks, but is anybody winning?


Crushed large soda cupWhen Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter gave the keynote address at the National Soda Summit this summer, he seemed like a natural choice to rail against the public health risks of sugar-sweetened drinks. Sodas have been the bête noire in his fight against Philadelphia’s obesity problem. He has tried and failed twice to pass a soda tax, which would add two cents per ounce to the cost of sweetened beverages. With funding from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, his administration has launched a campaign to reduce soda consumption and encourage healthier behaviors. In a city where 63 percent of residents are overweight or obese, Mayor Nutter has made it clear: Big Soda is enemy number one.

Until the soda summit, however, the mayor had been tight-lipped on the idea of regulating soda consumption directly. But his speech in Washington raised a few eyebrows here at home. In discussing New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s so-called soda ban, which, if passed as expected next month, will prohibit the sale of sugary drinks larger than 16 ounces, Mayor Nutter praised Mayor Bloomberg’s plan. MORE