Kroger, Target, Sodexo Update Progress During Nat'l Seafood Month

Two years ago, Kroger promised that 100 percent of the top 20 wild-caught species it sells would come from sustainable sources by 2015.

The grocery giant revealed today that 65 percent of its top 20 wild-caught fresh and frozen fish meet standards set by the Marine Stewardship Council and the World Wildlife Fund. And about half of the top 20 species it sells by volume come from certified sources, not far off from its 2015 goal of 75 percent. The company no longer sells several species of growing concern, including shark, bluefin tuna, marlin, skates and ray.

Kroger made the announcement to mark the end of National Seafood Month (October is also National Energy Awareness Month, by the way), but the company isn't the only one taking advantage of the occasion to highlight its green credentials.

Target, for example, celebrated the month in part by announcing that it would only sell sustainable and traceable fresh and frozen seafood by 2015. To achieve this goal, the retailer has partnered with FishWise, a California nonprofit that helps seafood companies adopt greener best practices.

2015 is also the target year for Sodexo's goal of having 100 percent of its contracted seafood to come from certified sustainable sources. The company said last week that it has doubled the selection of products offered to its customers that are certified to the MSC or Best Aquaculture Practices (BAP) standards.

In its first CSR report issued last month, Sodexo said that its purchases of certified sustainable seafood grew from 31 percent to 43 percent. In June, Sodexo committed to promote MSC standards for seafood across its global operations.

All of these moves are meant to not only address the world's increasingly threatened fisheries, but to also reassure consumers that the fish they are buying does indeed come from sustainable sources. Unfortunately, the fish for which they're paying top dollar is sometimes not what they bargained for, according to a new Consumer Reports study released today.

Testing of 190 pieces of seafood purchased at stores and restaurants revealed that about 20 percent were either mislabeled, incompletely labeled or misidentified by staff.

"Whether deliberate or not, substitution hurts consumers three ways: in their wallet, when expensive seafood is switched for less desirable, cheaper fish; in their health, when they mistakenly eat species that are high in mercury or other contaminants; and in their conscience, if they find out they've mistakenly bought species whose numbers are low," Consumer Reports said.

The most rampant offender: red snapper. Of the 22 samples purchased, none could be positively identified as red snapper.

Fish image view Shutterstock.