BOSTON (AP) -- Those plump and tempting scallops at the fish counter might be a lot smaller than they look - a sodium-based compound can bloat scallops well past their actual size. And that fillet isn't such a good deal if the price includes the layers of ice glazed onto it to keep it fresh.
At the International Boston Seafood Show this week, a top U.S. seafood quality officer announced his agency was increasing efforts to stop these and other types of seafood fraud.
"We've decided we're going to take on the economic fraud concern," said Steven Wilson, chief quality officer at the National Marine Fisheries Service's seafood inspection program.
It won't be easy. Most seafood eaten in the U.S. is imported and packed outside the country. And the more fraud there is, the more that local industry members feel pressure to commit it to compete.
Perhaps the best known seafood fraud is species substitution, when sellers secretly replace a prized species with a similar tasting, cheaper fish - whiting substituted for grouper, or mako shark for swordfish.
But fraud involving inaccurate food weights, caused by practices such as overglazing and soaking, is far more common, Wilson said. Inspectors at his agency find some kind of economic fraud in at least 40 percent of all products submitted to them voluntarily. In at least eight out of 10 of those cases, inaccurate weights are the problem.