Scientists at the George Washington University’s (GW) Milken Institute School of Public Health (Milken Institute SPH) used a powerful genetic technique to test seafood dinners sold in six DC restaurants and found 33 percent had been mislabeled — although in most cases with species that are either closely related or considered acceptable alternatives for menu listing.
To find out if District diners were getting what was listed on the menu, Dr. Keith Crandall, director of the Computational Biology Institute at Milken Institute SPH recruited a GW graduate student to visit area restaurants and collect samples from seafood items that he ordered. Dr. Crandall and his team then used DNA barcoding to identify a telltale region of the Cytochrome Oxidase I mitochondrial gene. This technique compares the seafood sample with a database of DNA barcodes from known species to identify it.
“For the most part, our study found that DC diners with a craving for seafood are getting what they paid for,” Dr. Crandall says.