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Attorney General Subpoenas Restaurant Records

November 22nd, 2006 by Mike Vasilinda

The Attorney General wants to know if restaurants are substituting cheaper fish for the grouper on their menu. Subpoenas have been issued to 16 restaurants across the state and more are coming to determine if the grouper on the menu was also what was on the plate. As Mike Vasilinda Reports, Those in the industry suspect the Grouper is only there half the time.


Jeff Stilwell has been cooking and selling fish for 3 decades.

“This is haddock… nice and white. Cut it. Look at it. That would pass for grouper.”

He sells a lot of fish that isn’t grouper….he just believes you ought not call it something it isn’t.

“I say promote the fish and tell ‘em it’s as good as a grouper sandwich.”

Florida Attorney General and soon to be Governor Charlie Crist Agrees. He has issued subpoenas to 16 restaurants.

Crist says “We will utilize DNA in order to test the fish we subpoena to make sure that they are or are not grouper and if they’re not, then it’s probably a violation of Florida 501 statute which is unfair trade and deceptive practice.”

On this plate, cobia, grouper, pollack and haddock all appear similar. They tasted slightly different, but they close enough to be confusing. The reality is, when you’re ordering grouper, you may only be getting it about half the time.

The Florida fisting industry likes the crackdown. Bob Jones says cheap substitutions are hurting those trying to make an honest living.

“People don’t want to put on the menu that they’re selling (fish) from Vietnam. They want to say ‘you’re getting a great piece of Florida grouper.’ It’s not true in 50% of the cases.”

And as for what’s on your plate. If the price for grouper is too good to be true, Jeff Stilwell says it probably isn’t grouper.

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