What’s She Buying? Who Knows?

What’s in a name?  That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.  – William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet

That quote is pretty much what the government of the People’s Republic of ChinaYoung Asian woman  holding her nose because of a bad smell is telling its citizens, and the citizens aren’t buying it.


It appears that for years, fish sellers in China have been labeling rainbow trout as salmon.

And for consumers, it does not smell as sweet.

“I am SO not buying that 拉屎,” said one 20-year-old woman, who spoke on conditions of anonymity.

qinghai-mapThe story broke awhile back after the Chinese state media recirculated a video profiling a freshwater fishery in Qinghai province.  The company, according to the video, supplied one-third of China’s salmon.

Other media outlets smelled something fishy (you know I had to say that) because, as you can see from the map, Qinghai province is nowhere close to the ocean, where salmon spend most of their lives.

And that freshwater fishery?  It’s a rainbow trout farm.

Outraged, thousands of people took to social media, including #RainbowTroutBecomesSalmon, protesting the deception:


So recently, various authorities – including the China Aquatic Products Processing and Marketing Alliance, an industry group affiliated with China’s Ministry of Agriculture, as well as 13 commercial fisheries – offered this comforting thought:

“Salmon and rainbow trout belong to the same family.”

Well, so do my brother and I, but we’d both be pretty annoyed if someone suggested we were the same person.

The authorities also said that markets and restaurants must list the species of the fish and its origins.  So you might see a label that either says:

Salmon (Atlantic salmon)
Salmon (rainbow trout)

Can’t you just see that labeling logic applied to other products?

Label Says

You Get

Gov’t Response

Fresh chicken (chicken)
Fresh chicken (buzzard)
Buzzards They’re from the same family.
2019 Nissan (Sentra)
2019 Nissan (from 1982)

They’re from the same family.

Thoroughbred horse (horse)
Thoroughbred horse (donkey)

They’re from the same family.

Then there’s the matter of freshwater parasites that could infect humans if the rainbow trout is eaten raw.  If an unaware resident of China orders (raw) salmon sushi, how does she/he know if they’re getting salmon, or freshwater rainbow trout that may contain parasites?

salmon_01 Salmon or rainbow trout?  Only the Chinese government knows for sure! trout_01.jpg

Oh, right.  Just look at the label.  Though I personally have never seen sushi served with a label.

I’ll close with another quote, this from an unnamed ancient Roman who was hip to deceptive labeling:

Let the buyer

(Let the buyer beware.)

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