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Fish Dish not What You Wish

If the cod you ordered at the restaurant tasted like ling, or the monkfish resembled cusk, don’t for a moment suspect your taste buds of lying. If the results of a recent study are anything to go by, there is a 22 percent chance you were neither served cod nor monkfish, regardless of what the menu promised.

Matís, an Icelandic food and biotech institute, did a study of 22 Icelandic restaurants as part of a larger European research project. The results reveal that ordering from a menu may resemble sea angling: you don’t know for sure what fish will swim in your direction or end up on your plate. In 22 percent of cases, customers did not receive the type of fish they ordered.

Jónas Viðar Ragnarsson, program director at Matís, was not surprised: “This, in fact, confirms other similar studies, which have previously been conducted. Very often, the rate is about 30 percent. But if you go to a sushi bar, you can expect a much worse outcome.” He told RÚV it’s common in Iceland for ling to be served as cod, and, as is often the case elsewhere in Europe, for one type of tuna to be sold as another.

“In our study, we had one example of cusk being sold as monkfish. That’s probably going too far,” Jónas stated. He said chefs ought to see what they’re cooking. What the study doesn’t reveal is whom we should let off the hook: whether the problem lies with restaurants or their suppliers. Oftentimes, restaurants receive fish fillets with the skin removed, making it harder to detect which type of fish it is.

The news has upset representatives of the Icelandic Travel Industry Association. Skapti Örn Ólafsson, the associations’s public relations officer, told RÚV it’s unacceptable for restaurants to serve customers something different from what they order. In his view, chefs ought to know what type of fish they’re cooking.

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