4

Jaws the book (1974) claimed that if you use a cookie cutter to punch holes from flounder wings, you can create fake scallops and that these are commonly sold in restaurants:

'I was just looking at the scallops, or what they claim are scallops. The chances are they're flounder, cut up with a cookie cutter.' [...] Hooper's scallops were the size of marshmallows. 'Flounder,' he said after the waitress had left. 'I should have known.'

This meme appears to live on to this day, although often the fake species is said to be stingray (skate) instead.

Are there any documented cases of this happening?

  • Looks unlikely: articles.chicagotribune.com/1994-09-29/entertainment/… – jpatokal Aug 10 '17 at 20:33
  • Coincidentally, an old surfer from the sixties told me exactly this just a week ago. Apparently, it's an old urban legend. But we'll see how much is legend and how much is truth. – fredsbend Aug 10 '17 at 22:58
  • I haven't heard of fake scallops. I have heard of "Krab" used in place of "Crab", where "Krab" is whatever they want, and with that spelling is not a mis-labeling... – GEdgar Aug 11 '17 at 0:13
  • @jpatokal: Would you like to turn that into an answer, please? – Oddthinking Aug 11 '17 at 2:34
  • I could have sworn we had a related question about other seafood substitutions, but I can't find it. – Oddthinking Aug 11 '17 at 2:35
5

In short, this looks unlikely. This article in the Chicago Tribune dates from 1994, but it states that:

  • The National Fisheries Institute is not aware of any cases of intentionally mislabeling "any of the five species of scallops that are commercially harvested from American waters"
  • The Food and Drug Administration's Office of Seafood has "not seen evidence of mislabeling".

The FDA spokesperson also noted that "the muscle fibers (of the scallop and the ray) would not look the same. It's not worth the labor involved".

The one common scallop "scam" is to pump them up with water, which increases the weight by 25% and makes them soft and flabby... but they're still actual scallops.

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