Food Advertised as 'Scallops' in Some Instances Are Totally Different Fish, Inside Edition Investigation Finds

Applied Food Technologies in Florida found samples of seafood advertised to be “scallops” at restaurants across the United States to be anything but.

Food advertised on menus and in markets as “scallops” in some instances have no amount of the seafood in it at all, an Inside Edition investigation has found.

Inside Edition ordered scallops at restaurants across the country and sent them to Applied Food Technologies in Florida for testing. Samples of seafood advertised to be “scallops” at some restaurants in New York City turned out to be anything but.

The fried scallops Inside Edition purchased at Fish House, a popular fish market in New York City, were found to have no scallops in them at all.

“We were certainly surprised,” Molly Sims, who specializes in seafood DNA analysis, said of her and her colleagues’ findings. “Surprised to see such a blatantly false scallop.

“My best guess to what they were is some sort of surimi-type product,” she continued.

According to Dr. David Friedman, an expert on seafood and the author of "Food Sanity," surimi is a type of fish paste.

“It's a bunch of goo that's shaped like a scallop to fool you,” she said.

Friedman says of all the creatures in the sea, scallops are the most frequently substituted.

“It's very common, especially in dishes they can hide in soups and sauces,” he told Inside Edition.

Unlike natural scallops, surimi is made from a less healthy paste, typically out of cheap fish like pollock or whiting, he explained.

“They shape and mold it into hockey pucks and then fry,” he said.

When Inside Edition chief investigative correspondent Lisa Guerrero returned to Fish House, she explained to a manager that scallops ordered at the restaurant were found to have not, in fact, been scallops.

“Yeah, they're imitation scallops,” the manager replied.

“Wouldn't you feel better if the menu said ‘imitation scallops’ so the customer knows what they're buying?” Guerrero asked.

“Do you have any idea how many things are imitation?” the manager said.

“That's why we’re doing the investigation,” Guerrero said.

The fried scallops provided to Inside Edition at Angel Fish Market in New York were found to not be real scallops, either.

The manager there walked away when asked if the store was selling fake scallops. Later, she confirmed their "fried scallops are imitation" and that they would change the menu to reflect that.

At a third eatery, items on the menu advertised as scallops were found to be made of spinefoot fish.

“You can trust your eyes and your nose,” Friedman said. “You want to see irregular shapes; if they’re perfect shapes like hockey pucks, they're fakes. You want to do the sniff test; scallops have a sweet smell. if it smells fishy, something fishy is going on!”

But it wasn’t all fishy business. Samples of scallops collected by Inside Edition in Toledo, Dallas and St. Louis all turned about to be the real deal, according to Applied Food Technologies.

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