Posted: 6:40 p.m. Friday, July 5, 2013

CO being used to enhance color of tilapia

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tilapia CO ingredient photo
Channel 2 consumer investigator Jim Strickland went to sources at Inland Seafood in Tucker after a viewer called about an ingredient on the label of a bag of frozen tilapia.
tilapia CO ingredient photo
Demmond said the gas dissipates and is FDA-approved. Carbon monoxide helps bring red blood cells to the surface, keeping them red.
tilapia CO ingredient photo
The label listed as a key ingredient the toxic gas carbon monoxide. Harris said he was unaware of its use in the food industry.

By Jim Strickland

TUCKER, Ga. —

Channel 2 consumer investigator Jim Strickland went to sources at Inland Seafood in Tucker after a viewer called about an ingredient on the label of a bag of frozen tilapia.

Inland didn't have anything to do with the bag, but they knew all about what was going on inside it.

"I personally call it tailpipe tilapia," said Inland Seafood COO Bill Demmond. "I don't like it, but I sell it 'cause I have to compete."

Demmond said the difference is the color.

"When you thaw (the frozen fish), the blood line is bright red. On this fresh fish, the blood has already started to turn a little brownish color," Demmond pointed out to Strickland.

It was home cook Richard Harris who discovered the secret to his tilapia's rosy pink glow.

"I was shocked," he said.

The label listed as a key ingredient the toxic gas carbon monoxide. Harris said he was unaware of its use in the food industry.

"Other than just making people sick and passing out. But to enhance the color of fish? I never would have thought," Harris said.

Demmond said the gas dissipates and is FDA-approved. Carbon monoxide helps bring red blood cells to the surface, keeping them red.

Strickland exposed in 2006 how meat packers were doing the same thing to steaks.

Demmond said Chinese fish exporters have recently started gassing grouper as well.

"The packer of this product is trying to fool the public into thinking the fish is fresher than it actually is," he said.

"People eat this stuff every day, and I think it's not fair to mislead," said Harris.

Harris bought Ocean Market brand tilapia from Hiayang Seafood. Strickland called the company's U.S. headquarters in Delaware twice and emailed an address from its website. So far, he has gotten no response.

 
 

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