Nine restaurants were caught serving "lobster rolls" that contained crawfish, pollock and other cheaper fish, but no actual lobster.
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SAN DIEGO, Dec. 9 (UPI) -- Eight California sushi restaurants were fined and a ninth went out of business after investigators discovered that their "lobster rolls" contained cheaper fish in place of lobster.
The eight restaurants paid a total of $14,000 dollars in fines and were forced to provide a warning on their menu after California Department of Fish and Wildlife found that they had substituted crawfish, pollock and other fish in place of lobster.
"The public should be able to count on truthful advertising from anyone doing business in San Diego," said City Attorney Jan Goldsmith. "Honest customer service is not only required by law, it is good business. Our office will continue to prosecute businesses that lie to their consumers."
The investigators ordered rolls from the restaurants in question and had them DNA-tested with every single result returning false, according to the chief deputy of the city attorney's consumer and environmental protection unit Kathryn Turner.
This was when the city was forced to take action.
"The investigators went to the restaurants and said, 'Show us your lobster or your lobster invoices,'" said Turner. None of the restaurants were able to comply with the investigators' requests.
Many of the restaurants denied any purposeful deception with one citing a common misclassification of the crustacean langostino as the reason for the mislabeled dish.
California state law prohibits the mislabeling of food ingredients, which can lead to serious health issues for people with food allergies.