Sushi Chef Fights “Fish Fraud” with Edible QR Codes
If you’re a sushi lover, you’re probably already familiar with the sad state of the seafood industry. Study after study has shown that anywhere between 25-70% of seafood on the market is wrongly labeled — often an attempt to pass off cheaper, lower-quality products as a higher-end than they actually are.
The problem here is bigger than simply not getting what you ordered. For one thing, it can be dangerous if you’re trying to avoid fish with a high mercury content. It can also make it practically impossible to ethically purchase sustainable seafood. Even if consumers try to avoid overfished species, they may end up eating them anyway.
Now, Rob Ruiz, a chef at Harney Sushi in San Diego, is trying to change that. He’s created a type of edible, rice-paper QR code that he attaches to customers’ orders. When their plate arrives, they can scan the code with their smartphone and see exactly where their food came from. They can get information on how their fish was harvested, current ocean stocks and even see videos of the fishermen in action.
This isn’t Ruiz’s first attempt to make his menu more sustainable. He regularly consults with top marine scientists at NOAA to determine which species are safe to throw on each month’s menu. His commitment to sustainable seafood isn’t just good for the planet — it’s good for the restaurant, too. He says more people than ever are ordering sashimi with confidence now — more than 1,000 pounds of the stuff a week.
By the end of the year, Ruiz plans to unveil individual QR codes for every species on his menu. He’s even hinted that he may help other local restaurants set up a similar system for their own seafood menus.
Photo credit: Luciano Meirelles via Flickr