The fraudulent-food industry exists, and it rakes in some $50 billion a year. And according to Business Insider, you've likely eaten some of the evidence. As it turns out, it's common for American restaurants to use inexpensive food substitutes in their dishes—even in the most expensive ones on the menu. To help separate fact from fiction, BI enlisted the help of Larry Olmsted, food journalist and author of the New York Times best-seller Real Food/Fake Food. According to Olmsted, these are some of the most common (and expensive) deceptions in the American food industry:
According to a February 2017 investigation conducted by Inside Edition, up to 35% of restaurants use inexpensive lobster substitutes in their seafood dishes, like whiting and pollock. Red Lobster, the world's largest seafood restaurant chain, was among the accused. Word to the wise: Don't order the lobster bisque.
Olmsted suspects that nearly 99% of served Kobe beef burgers and steaks are replicas, due to the fact that the supply is so low and the cut is so expensive. Unless your Kobe beef burger is absurdly priced, you're likely getting a cheaper alternative.
Back in 2013, nonprofit ocean protection group Oceana actually bought and genetically tested restaurant-served fish in 12 different parts of the country. In the 120 samples of "red snapper" tested, it ultimately found 28 different species of fish, 17 of which weren't even in the snapper family. If you haven't seen the fish displayed whole in the restaurant, chances are what you're eating is a cheaper replica.
For more, read up on the surprising restaurant dishes a chef says you should never order.