When you buy red snapper in a Price Chopper seafood department, you can be sure it’s really red snapper, according to company officials.
The company recently hired a Saratoga Springs-based company, Therion International LLC, to test and verify that the fish it sells at its supermarkets across the Capital Region is labeled correctly.
Company officials said there is a growing nationwide concern that restaurants, seafood markets and even some supermarkets are selling mislabeled seafood.
Consumer Reports found that 18 percent of seafood samples its researchers collected from retail stores and restaurants on the East Coast last year were mislabeled, according to a Price Chopper statement.
A recent Boston Globe investigation found that 48 percent of the fish collected from Boston restaurants, seafood markets and grocery stores was sold with the wrong species name.
Price Chopper commissioned a voluntary test of its seafood stock. The objective report’s conclusion confirmed that 100 percent of the fish tested was properly labeled, the company said.
William F. Gergits, a managing member of Therion, said Wednesday that he went to Price Chopper’s Rotterdam freezer and storage complex to start his testing.
He said he hand selected various types of fish. “I pulled one or two from each box,” he said.
He said he used the company’s DNA testing protocol to test the fish samples at the ISES Laboratories at the Invest incubator at Russell Sage College in Troy.
He took and tested 150 samples, and all of them tested correctly for the type of fish on the label.
Gergits said problems with fish identification and falsification “can happen anywhere along the food chain.” He said some mislabel the fish on purpose while others use the mislabeled fish by accident.
Therion International has clients all over the United States and has done work for Red Lobster, Bonefish Grill, importers out of Boston and media organizations conducting investigations.
Therion was the first commercial laboratory to provide DNA-based testing services to verify seafood species’ identity.
“Price Chopper came to us to develop a testing protocol to help them reassure their customers about their labeling and the quality of their seafood,” Gergits said.
Studies of both restaurants and retail food merchants have found that red snapper and white tuna are among the most commonly mislabeled seafood.
Both were tested in the Price Chopper study and were found to be labeled appropriately, according to company officials.
“Our purpose in commissioning a course of scientifically reliable DNA testing on our seafood, in addition to our own internal control procedures, is to provide quality assurances to our customers beyond those offered by other purveyors,” Lee E. French, Price Chopper’s vice president of seafood, said in a prepared statement.
“Our customers already know that they can count on us for seafood variety, freshness and even meal preparations — we fry or steam any seafood purchase free of charge — all of which can be physically seen and tasted,” he said.