Mislabeled Fish Packages Alarm Scientists

June 22, 2011

Unlocking Word Meanings
Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

1. mislabeled (adj.) [mis-ley-buhld] – having that a label that is wrong, misleading
Example: I took the wrong medicine because the bottle is mislabeled.

2. endangered (adj.) [en-deyn-jerd] – something that is in danger of disappearing
Example: Polar bears are endangered because they are always hunted down.
3. bar code (n.) [bahr] [kohd] – a series of lines with different thickness and are read by scanner to reveal information such as price, address, identification, etc.
Example: Every product in the supermarket has a bar code to easily know how much they cost.

4. database (n.) [dey-tuh-beys] – a very large collection of data that is in digital form
Example: The company has a database of clients which they update every month.

5. malpractice (adj.) [mal-prak-tis] – improper or wrong practice
Example: Doctors who ask patients to buy expensive drugs commit malpractice.

Read the text below.

Marine scientists are concerned with the growing number of mislabeled fish packages in many supermarkets. In a study across North America and Europe, 20 to 25 percent of seafood products have fake labels. Cheaper fish meats are packed as expensive fish, while rare fish species   are not identified as endangered.

Environmental group Oceana says agencies like Food and Drug Administration slack at monitoring mislabeled products. Their old monitoring system, which involves checking protein from fish samples, returns unreliable results. As an alternative, inspectors track the paperwork of fish deliveries and watch for any changes in labels. But this method also takes a lot of time.

To address this problem, scientists propose the use of DNA bar coding which allows inspectors to compare DNA from fish samples to a database of fish species. The cost of testing is not much. Laboratories charge $2000 for every 100 samples, equivalent to $20 per sample. If an agency owns the equipment, the cost can be $1 per sample.

Scientists claim that bar coding is becoming more accessible today. They predict that in the next ten years, inspectors will have hand-held DNA bar coding system.

However, stopping this widespread malpractice may take time because fish dealers continue to profit from it. In the meantime, consumers suffer as they pay more for cheaper fish and they become unaware that they are buying endangered fish species.

Viewpoint Discussion
Enjoy a discussion with your tutor. 

Discussion A

·         Why do some people enjoy eating endangered or rare fishes?
·         Why should people protect endangered fishes?

Discussion B

·         How would you feel if you find out that you bought a cheap fish instead of one with high quality?
·         What would you do if you find out that the labels in the fish package you bought are wrong?

June 22, 2011