Restaurants misrepresented type of fish served
OLYMPIA — Attorney General Bob Ferguson today announced agreements with two Washington restaurants ordering them to cease mislabeling fish in sushi.
An investigation by the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division uncovered evidence that the Washington restaurants incorrectly labeled fish used in their sushi between March and August 2016. Assurances of Discontinuance filed in King County Superior Court require both businesses to accurately disclose the species of fish sold to consumers and pay costs and fees.
“Consumers deserve to know the truth about what they are buying,” Ferguson said. “If you mislead consumers, my office will hold you accountable.”
The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) maintains a database of fish species names, known as The Seafood List. The Seafood List contains all acceptable market names for fish species.
In these cases, unacceptable market names were used in labeling fish.
On multiple occasions, the Attorney General’s Office purchased sushi at Sushi Tokyo of Seattle and Oto Sushi of Redmond. The restaurants sold the sushi as raw salmon, tuna and snapper. The AGO sent samples to a food testing laboratory to verify whether the types of fish were properly labeled.
Testing found that the restaurants labeled their sushi as “white tuna” or albacore when it was actually escolar. Additionally, Sushi Tokyo mislabeled tilapia as “Tai red snapper.” AGO investigators determined that the restaurants had purchased correctly named fish but changed the names on their menus.
In addition to agreeing to discontinue deceptive practices, the two businesses must pay the Attorney General’s Office’s costs and fees in the cases: $4,000 for Sushi Tokyo and $1,500 for Oto Sushi.
The Attorney General’s Office initiated its investigation following a study from non-profit Oceana concerning the mislabeling of fish in sushi.
Assistant Attorney General Joel Delman is lead attorney in these cases.
The Attorney General’s Office offers an informal complaint resolution service to Washington state residents and to consumers with complaints about businesses located in Washington state. To file a complaint about a business or other consumer issue, go to atg.wa.gov/file-complaint.
The Office of the Attorney General is the chief legal office for the state of Washington with attorneys and staff in 27 divisions across the state providing legal services to roughly 200 state agencies, boards and commissions. Visit www.atg.wa.gov to learn more.
Peter Lavallee, Communications Director, (360) 586-0725; PeterL@atg.wa.gov