Bait and switch: avoiding dubious substitutions

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If it says walleye on the menu, then that’s what you get, right? Not always. Sometimes less reputable establishments have been known to substitute zander, a similar-yeOct. Image 2t-less-expensive species, for walleye to help cut costs and increase profits. Ever hear of Pangasius labeled as sole or grouper? It happens.

The list goes on and on: grouper, snapper, tuna, sea bass—almost every high-dollar piece of seafood has a less expensive analog, and if you can’t trust the supplier you deal with, you may not be getting what you pay for.

Even though the FDA is very clear on seafood market names and labeling regulations, it is not always so easy to tell for sure. Once a fish has been filleted and the skin removed, it becomes increasingly difficult to clearly and accurately identify the species. The same goes for shellfish. That’s why Sysco’s QA Department, the largest and most active in the industry, has programs in place to ensure that what you see on the label is what you get in the package, with no dubious substitutions.

Sysco takes the distribution of properly labeled seafood very seriously. In addition to being illegal, improperly labeled seafood misleads foodservice customers. We work closely with our valued suppliers to ensure that the seafood in Sysco brand products is properly identified. These efforts begin with identifying suppliers who share our commitment to distributing properly labeled seafood products. Then, Sysco Quality Assurance utilizes numerous programs to routinely verify our supplier’s efforts. These programs include Field Specialist inspections, the Point Source Inspection Program, our Seafood Authenticity Verification Program for specifically identified seafood at high risk for species substitution, and audits of our approved Sysco brand suppliers by Sysco QA personnel. 

These programs are in place to ensure that all Sysco brand seafood is properly represented, so that our valued customers can be confident our seafood meets not only Sysco’s stringent standards, but regulatory requirements as well.