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Sushi Chef Fights “Fish Fraud” with Edible QR Codes

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.

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Photo credit: Luciano Meirelles via Flickr

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68 comments

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6:30AM PST on Feb 22, 2014

Thank you

5:26AM PDT on Aug 11, 2013

thanks for sharing :)

12:43AM PDT on Jul 29, 2013

This sounds like a good idea - even better for people to go vegetarian or vegan.

9:56PM PDT on Jul 27, 2013

sushi is out

6:03AM PDT on Jul 27, 2013

I actually tried Sushi, one bite- about 15 years ago- and I had to puke.. I can hardy see it on pics anylonger.. Weird. (Or maybe not)
Ty for sharing anyway!

4:34AM PDT on Jul 27, 2013

... and what really goes on behind the scenes?

5:58PM PDT on Jul 25, 2013

Thanks

9:46AM PDT on Jul 25, 2013

Just goes to show how ethical business can be. All power to Rob, hope his idea spreads.

1:15PM PDT on Jul 24, 2013

Thanks.

12:51PM PDT on Jul 24, 2013

Thank you! Vegetarian sushi only, please.

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Julie M. Rodriguez Julie M. Rodriguez is an arts, green living, and political writer based in San Mateo, CA. Her work... more
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