Florida Sea Grant Extension in Collier County

Welcome to the Collier County Sea Grant Extension Blog

This blog is an opportunity for me to share with you my extension outreach efforts and useful information to make you a more informed coastal citizen. If you have any questions about what you see, feel free to contact me at fluech@ufl.edu.

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Thursday, February 3, 2011

Tips to Avoiding Fake Grouper

Grouper is one of Florida's most valuable commercial fisheries. In 2009 over 6.7 million pounds were landed in the state with an estimated dockside value of close to $18 million. Because of its economic value, popularity among consumers, and limited supply, however, grouper has also been the target of species substitution and mislabeling by some wholesalers, restaurants, and retailers in recent years. Often the substituted product is a lesser-valued fish imported from other countries. Species substitution and mislabeling is illegal! While the perpetrators who sell the product might generate economic gains in the short-run, the fraudulent act can have long-term negative consequences for the industry as well as consumers.

As seafood consumer, it is important to "know your seafood". There are several things you can do to ensure you are getting grouper you paid for and expect.

Deal with merchants that you trust.
Get to know your fish mongers and talk with them about what kind of grouper they have and where it is harvested. Any respectable business should be able to answer these questions. If still in doubt, ask to see the fish before purchasing it.

Know the appearance and texture of  grouper
When you see this logo
with the seafood you
order, it ensures, by
law, it was harvested in
Florida waters.
While individual species have unique identifiable characteristics, grouper is commonly described as a lean, white-flesh fish with a taste and texture, which is popular and distinct from most common white-flesh fish. Grouper fillets are usually thick with a firm texture. When you order grouper fried, it makes it harder to distinguish it from other species so take this into consideration. Also consider the size of the grouper you get.  Because of U.S. regulations, domestic grouper has to be a minimum size to harvest. If you order grouper and the whole fillet fits on your plate, its probably a strong indicator that its either not grouper or perhaps a grouper imported from another country.

Is the price right?
Buyers should be wary of grouper prices that are suspiciously low. Because the supply of domestic grouper is limited, the price is generally around $11 to $13 per pound wholesale fillet value, and the retail value -- the price paid by consumers -- will be even higher. Prices that are considerably lower likely mean that the fish is not grouper, but instead is a substitute species of lesser value, such as basa or Asian swai.

Report Fraudulent Acts
If you suspect the grouper you are purchasing isn't really grouper, report it! Remember, species substitution and mislabeling is against the law! To learn more about species substitution and how to report possible violations visit:

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