Do You Really Know What’s On Your Plate? (And a New Release)

by Shannon Esposito

The murder victim in my new release, Pushing Up Daises (A Pet Psychic Mystery No. 5) is an infamous food critic who exposes local restaurants’ false claims—and flat out lies–about what they’re serving their customers. Unfortunately, seafood fraud is a real problem.

Is this really what you ordered? Seafood fraud is a real thing.

I always thought one of the perks of living in Florida was getting to eat fresh seafood, until I started doing research for this book and found out ninety percent of the seafood consumed in the US is imported from countries with loose aquaculture laws.

Okay, so it’s not fresh caught off our coastal waters. Is that so bad? Well, yes, it is.

When fish is imported, it has little oversight.

According to a recent study by Oceana—a non-profit ocean conservation organization—one in five fish sold in the US are conveniently “mislabeled”. Cheaper fish are sold in place of more popular fish. These are fish that contain higher mercury levels and fish that are farmed, instead of wild caught, which means you are consuming antibiotics, pesticides, artificial coloring and other toxins.

Restaurants in Florida have been caught serving foreign crab meat touted as Atlantic blue crab, Asian catfish as Florida Grouper, foreign shrimp as domestic, and Escolar—a fish with gempylotixin which causes gastrointestinal distress—as white tuna. Ordering red snapper? Odds are high that’s not what you’re getting, since it’s mislabeled eighty-six percent of the time. But one of the most troubling deceptions discovered is King mackerel, a high methylmercury-content fish, being served as grouper. 

Can something be done about this deception?

The good news is it can be fixed. Europe had the same problem, but after voting for stricter labeling laws, and educating consumers about the issue, they managed to cut seafood fraud and mislabeling from thirty-three percent down to four percent.

What can you do? Learn what fish are in season in your area. Ask where the fish is sourced. You may not always get the truth, but if they know consumers are educating themselves about this issue, they may start thinking twice about their deceptive practices.

Does seafood fraud in the US shock you? Or were you aware of this problem?

Pushing Up Daisies (A Pet Psychic Mystery No. 5)

The dog days of summer are back, and Darwin Winters, pet psychic, is excited to attend the St. Pete Seafood Festival with her sister. Unfortunately, the festival gets shut down early when a despised, local food critic dies from ingesting pufferfish toxin while judging the Chef’s Golden Lobster Contest.

When Hana Ishida, the chef who served pufferfish to the victim, is taken in for questioning, Darwin agrees to dog-sit the woman’s dachshund, Daisy. Darwin receives a vision from Daisy showing Hana in a heated argument, but for Daisy’s sake, Darwin desperately wants to dig up the truth and help her boyfriend, Detective Will Blake, prove Hana’s innocence.

Though Will does have a few fishy restaurant owners on his suspect list, none of the clues are pointing to anyone but Hana. Can Darwin help him reel in the right suspect? Or will this killer be the one that got away?

Available on Amazon (free with Kindle Unlimited)

Posted by Shannon Esposito. Shannon lives in a magical gulf coast town with fluorescent sunsets, purple dragonflies and the occasional backyard alligator. Her mysteries transport readers to Florida without the hefty price of airfare. You can visit her at

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  • Reply
    Kassandra Lamb
    July 16, 2019 at 5:42 pm

    First, congrats on your release, Shannon! It’s a great story.

    Boy, this is kind of scary… restaurants may be serving something other than what you think you’re getting! Especially something that has additives and toxins in it. Yuck!! I may stick to chicken from now on when we go out to eat.

  • Reply
    Shannon Esposito
    July 16, 2019 at 8:34 pm

    Thanks! And yeah well… I watched a documentary on Netflix that made me stop eating chicken lol. Sometimes it’s better not to know. 🙂

  • Reply
    Wendy Dingwall
    July 19, 2019 at 3:14 pm

    Sadly, I have been aware for sometime about the fraudulent fish served in Florida. Having grown up in the Miami area and fished many waters, in both the Atlantic and Gulf, I can tell instantly when grouper and snapper are not what they are putting on the plate. I can also tell immediately when I’m being served tilapia in place of some other fish. Fortunately, for me, I became vegan many years ago and no longer order any food from animal products. But not so good for the species that are being overfished to extinction and fed fraudulently to others.

    Your latest book sounds like a fun one. Can’t wait to read it!

  • Reply
    Shannon Esposito
    July 21, 2019 at 10:41 am

    Thanks, Wendy! Yeah, overfishing is a serious problem. Also the ecosystem damage from the commercial fishing fleets. I think educating the public is a big part of the solution, but not sure how that could be done on a big enough scale.

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