Is it Calamari or Pig Bung?
Recently DNA tests were conducted in various cities across America. They were done to provide positive proof that the incidence of mislabeling seafood is spread further and wider than anyone had ever thought. The results were indeed shocking. Things like tilapia were routinely mislabeled in restaurants and fish markets as red snapper, and general mislabeling was happening nearly 40% (sometimes more often) in cities like New York and Los Angeles. The results indicated that nearly half the time, you are probably not actually eating the seafood you thought you ordered.
Now comes news, albeit somewhat unsubstantiated news, that indicates that our love affair with calamari (squid) may about to become a bit more complicated. Award winning public radio program This American Life ran a segment about the alleged practice of hog rectums (or pig bungs) being used as “imitation calamari.” This American Life producer, Ben Calhoun, got a hot tip about a farmer, who is in charge of “a pork producing operation that spans several states.” This farmer has was visiting a pork processing plant one day in Oklahoma, and noticed boxes stacked on the floor labeled “artificial calamari.” Asked what that meant, the plant’s manager replied, “Bung. It’s hog rectum.” For clarity, Calhoun adds, “Rectum that would be sliced into rings, deep fried, and boom, there you have it.”
The report goes on to investigate this rumor, not finding all that much credibility to the claims excepting some alleged links back to pig bung being consumed in Asia, but largely Calhoun comes up a bit short on hard evidence of the practice of passing off pig bung for calamari. But that is not to say that it doesn’t actually happen, as most food industry experts will admit.
Is the idea of having our calamari clandestinely swapped out for pig bung just too much to swallow? Is it, as Calhoun speculates, just “payback for our blissful ignorance about where our food comes from”? Do you think any of this is at all true?