After high school students revealed that a quarter of the fish in New York City sushi samples were mislabeled, consumer groups headed for grocery stores and found about the same portion mislabeled at the seafood counter. Then last summer students tested herbal teas and found 35 percent included unlisted ingredients, including grass and weeds. Cheap DNA testing is now widely available to the general public with commercial labs charging around $20 to analyze a fish sample. Anyone who owns the equipment can test for about $1 a sample. Students and consumer groups are showing the new power of biotechnology. But only routine testing and labeling by suppliers, restaurants and grocery retailers will protect the public. Now the Boston Globe has run a two part series on restaurants in Massachusetts selling fish of species inferior to those they advertise on their menus. Reporters found that half of the fish they DNA-tested were mislabeled at restaurants. Below are links to the stories and an interactive database of findings.

On the menu, but not on your plate (Part 1) by Jenn Abelson and Beth Daley, Oct. 23, 211.
From sea to sushi bar, a system open to abuse (Part 2) by Abelson and Daley, Oct. 24, 2011.

Mary Graham, co-director — Transparency Policy Project

Welcome to our blog. The Transparency Policy Project at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government seeks to understand and improve information disclosure that protects the public. Traditionally, governments, companies, other organizations have constructed disclosure systems to inform consumers about such issues as car safety and fuel economy, nutrients in packaged food, and drug side effects. Often these systems have not worked very well. Now citizens are sharing health and safety information on the web – and government disclosure systems are changing. We blog about new ways that information sharing can serve consumers, investors and ordinary citizens — in the U.S. and around the world.