Still, for all the unethical associations of mislabeling, it's the under-the-table bargains that worry me. The sailfish that were sold to Su-Shin weren't necessarily kept at the proper temperatures needed to preserve sushi fish. Hello, parasites and food-borne illnesses.
Other restaurants will buy barracuda from Sunday-afternoon vendors and put it on the menu as something else. This practice is extremely dangerous, because barracuda, which feed on reef fish, carry a toxin called ciguatoxin. This particular toxin in humans results in ciguatera, a neurological disorder that can cause abdominal pain and "pins-and-needles" sensations in the face, extremities, and private parts. Dr. Ram Ayyar, professor of neurology and vice chairman of clinical affairs at Jackson Memorial Hospital, specializes in the disease, and he says ciguatera "is often reported to be fatal but isn't. However, patients respond best when they are treated early." Which means if you've discovered a restaurant has served you barracuda instead of mahi-mahi, don't bother with the Better Business Bureau until after you've been released from Jackson Memorial. Then you have every right to complain to the bureau -- about your hospital bills.