St. Petersburg, Florida -- Researchers from the University of South Florida have come up with a handheld sensor to fight against fraudulent fish.
As much as 30% of the seafood entering the United States is fraudulently mislabeled claiming to be an expensive variety like grouper when it's actually cheap. It is estimated the fraud costs the U.S. seafood industry and consumers $20-25 billion a year.
Scientists at USF's College of Marine Science have now developed a small device, called the QuadPyre RT-NASB that can quickly and inexpensively determine if fish is correctly labeled whether it's aboard ship, dockside, in warehouses or in restaurants. The QuadPyre currently works with grouper.
"What we've done is we find the commonality in all the grouper and we go after that commonality of sequence," said Dr. John Paul, Distinguished Professor at USF. "Those which are not grouper will not be hit by our target probes."
It takes about 45 minutes to determine if grouper is fraudulent. Earlier tests might take hours or even days to find the same answer.
The QuadPyre isn't cheap at $1,995, and would be more useful for wholesalers or restaurant buyers than the average consumer.
USF has created a spinoff company called PureMolecular, LLC to commercialize the technology and is working to identify other species of fish like snapper, tuna and shrimp.