Cornell University’s Center for Ecological and Behavioral Research (CEBR) has conducted a major effort to improve the quality of the seafood sold at restaurants around the country.
The researchers, led by Dr. Michael R. Johnson, discovered that while restaurants have long relied on expensive, high-tech processing methods to reduce waste, it is not as easy to get the same quality and taste as the seafood they are selling.
“When it comes to fish, it’s very simple,” said Dr. Johnson.
“It’s not as simple as buying the best fish.
It’s much harder.”
The Cornell study found that high-end seafood consumers are far less likely to consider the quality and nutrition of the fish they eat.
“They’re less likely than most to think they’re eating fish that is better than the ones they have,” said Johnson.
While the study showed a significant drop in quality and quantity of seafood at the restaurants, it also showed that restaurants can be more efficient at producing and distributing the seafood.
“The food is getting out to restaurants because there’s a big demand for seafood, and restaurants are getting a lot of money from it,” said the Cornell professor.
The Cornell team analyzed the data from more than 3,000 restaurants across the United States.
They then looked at which fish types were most likely to be purchased and the price per pound of fish.
While most of the food served was fish, the Cornell team found that a large portion of the processed seafood was also sold as crab.
In a recent article, Johnson said, “There are very few fish that people really think are good for eating.
We’re not talking about the ones that are high in protein, the ones like tuna, salmon, shrimp, and cod.”
Dr. R.C. Johnson says the Cornell study showed that consumers tend to focus on fish they can eat at home, and that restaurants are less likely (than the food manufacturers) to provide good quality fish.
The most common fish in the Cornell research were tuna and catfish, but other species, such as mackerel, trout, and mackerell, were also available.
The seafood scientists found that fish in this category were most often sold as white tuna, tuna, and cat, while white crab was also available as white, red, and pink, as well as as pink salmon, white bass, and white sardines.
Dr. John R. DeBruyn, a professor of food and human nutrition, said the study was a good step forward for consumers.
“Consumers know the nutritional value of the product, and they’re buying it,” he said.
“But they don’t know what it tastes like.”
DeBresyn added that he believes the increased demand for fresh seafood could be the main reason for the declining quality of fish sold at the restaurant level.
“We’re just now seeing that demand for high-quality, fresher, healthier, and better-tasting seafood is taking hold,” he explained.
The study has many other interesting findings, including how the fish consumed was determined, and how it compares to what consumers are used to.
The authors also found that the food items sold at a restaurant are more likely to come from a larger, more diverse area.
“In many areas of the country, you’re talking about a variety of different fish types, including mackells, herring, anchovies, scallops, tuna and salmon,” said R. C. Johnson from Cornell.
“So, the quality is not only a function of what kind of fish you eat, but it’s also a function.
It may be more consistent quality.”
In addition to the Cornell University study, the team also looked at seafood sold in other markets, including markets in Japan, Korea, the United Kingdom, Australia, and the United Arab Emirates.
The results of the study are scheduled to be published in a forthcoming issue of the journal Food Quality and Preference.
The Food Quality Institute at Cornell is a member of the USDA Agricultural Research Service.