Biologist Discovers That Sushi Restaurants Lie About Their Ingredients And It’s Beyond Disgusting

When going out for sushi, you usually hope you get what you pay for. Some of us aren’t fish experts to know what types of fish look like, feel like, or taste like—and, we assume that when we order salmon or tuna, we’re getting salmon and tuna. It turns out, this isn’t always the case. Thanks to some molecular biology students, we now know that some sushi restaurants are out here scamming us all—and, it’s wildly f—ked up and gross.

Dr. McDonald, a biology professor at Fanshawe College in London, Ontario, recently tweeted about an experiment her students were conducting using fish DNA. They were to sequence the fish DNA from restaurant sushi orders and see if the fish actually match the ones labeled on the menu. Dr. McDonald claims that she was looking for a way to “spice up” the lab experiments in her class and thought that this would be a pretty awesome assignment to conduct.

Dr. McDonald told Bored Panda that students had to perform a process called DNA sequencing on their samples.

“Identifying species by their sequence barcode is almost exactly like going shopping. You pick out the items you want, some of them have price stickers on them, some of them don’t, and you take them to the cash register. As each item’s tag is scanned, the barcode on the item is the identifier: each item has a different barcode.

When scanned, the exact item and that item’s price is displayed on the register’s screen as long as it’s in the database. With living organisms, each major group of organisms has a well-established “barcode” in animals we use a gene called co1, in plants we use a gene called rbcL, in fungi weuse a gene called ITS, etc.

A gene sequencer has the ability to read all of the letters of the genetic code between two primers, that act like target probes. They restrict the region you’re generating the sequence for, instead of getting the entire genome. Once the sequencer has given you all of the letters between your primers, you run that through the barcode database and it will tell you what species that barcode is from. It’s really nice because it can work on a very small piece of tissue, instead of relying on identification based on the entire, intact, organism.”

Dr. McDonald explained on Twitter how the experiment would go down:

Then, she got the results and they were…horrifying.

One student sequenced some Red Snapper, which turned out to be Tilapia. The other student thought he had Atlantic Salmon, which came back as Rainbow Trout.

Two students thought they were sequencing Rainbow Trout, but, it turned out that one was Rainbow Trout and the other was straight up salmon.

One student, Reena, sequenced grocery store cod—which turned out to be on-point. But, Sydney sequenced Pacific Cod, which ended up being Atlantic Cod.

Jade got down to the nitty-gritty of sushi restaurant fraud.

Moe sequenced White Tuna—which, ended up being a completely separate tuna.

Evalyne sequenced what was also supposed to be White Tuna—but, it ended up being Escolar, which Dr. McDonald pointed out could be very dangerous to people who cannot stomach this.

Last but not least…there was one mystery among the samples.

Which, basically means they were eating insects(!!!)

The takeaway?

People were blown away at the experiment, and just as many were grossed out.

h/t: BoredPanda