BALTIMORE — A recent study by conservation group Oceana found that 33% of fish products sold in American stores is mislabeled, based on DNA testing. This week, however, sour-faced officials with the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Food and Drug Administration confirmed that the remaining two-thirds of seafood is unfortunately tagged and categorized with grim, harrowing adherence to reality.
From gelatinous mollusks still creepily clinging to their own barnacle-like shells to mercury-ridden cannibals happy to devour their own children, the terrifying and soulless denizens of the Earth’s oceans, rivers, lakes and farms have found their way into U.S. grocery stores and markets labeled with unashamed honesty. A new FDA webcast featuring spokesman Kurt Kimler seeks to inform the public about the coldblooded horrors that can find their way onto the plate.
“Look at this,” Kimler says in the webcast while holding up a clawed creature that resembles something out of an alien’s nightmare. “This miniature monster eats the fecal matter and other garbage of the ocean, it can live for decades, its blood is a disturbing blue and you can’t even imagine how gross it is when it’s molting. And yet stores and even fine restaurants feel comfortable calling this thing by its real name: the lobster.”
As Kimler speaks in the video, the spineless poo-eater in his hand seems to regard him with its blood-chilling eye stalks. It then reaches for him with its claw. “Ouch!” Kimler exclaims, holding the prehistoric thing further from his body.
“More than one major world religion forbids the eating of this abomination,” Kimler says. “It sure is delicious though,” he adds as he gently drops the lobster into a pot of boiling water.
Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack expressed similar ambivalence last month during his tour of Muddy Harvest, a Shreveport, La., catfish farm. The former Iowa governor visited Muddy Harvest as part of an effort to raise awareness on the nature of seafood.
“I think I’m going to be sick,” Vilsack said, a handkerchief pressed over his nose and mouth as he surveyed the filthy, grey-brown tanks, vats and man-made ponds. “These things have no scales, just a mucus-covered skin, and they just flop around in the mud with those gaping maws and poisonous spines and I can’t – That one!” he said, breaking off and pointing at a fish.
“That’s the one. Fry it up.”