Caviar Star Fact Check #2: Caviar Fun Facts

Our next piece on the Caviar Star Fact Check series focuses on an article titled "Caviar Fun Facts." Even though this is meant for fun, it's still based upon "facts" and we are here to provide caviar lovers with the truth they deserve about their revered delicacy. 

At Caviar Star, we want anyone buying caviar and specialties to be knowledgeable about such quality food products. Thus, we will continue our mission into the world of journalism to correct bad information, debunk myths and bring you the real facts about caviar and gourmet foods to help empower you as a consumer.

  • "Caviar is any single salted fish roe or egg. True caviar comes from the icy waters of the Caspian Sea from the finest sturgeon. Ninety-five percent of the caviar produced in the world comes from the Caspian Sea. Only three sturgeon species produce this caviar: Beluga, Osetra, and Sevruga."
    • FACT CHECK: True caviar, as maintained by most of the rest of the world, reserves the word "caviar" for roe that comes solely from fish of the Acipenseridae family, also known as sturgeon. The combination of unfertilized sturgeon eggs and salt creates the delicacy known as caviar. Throughout the twentieth century the Caspian Sea was the major supplier of sturgeon roe for caviar. However, the Caspian also suffered pollution, poaching, and over-fishing, all reducing sturgeon populations. In 1998, the sturgeon came under the protection of the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna (CITES). In September 2005, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service banned the import of Caspian Sea Beluga caviar, to protect the endangered Beluga sturgeon; a month later, the ban included Beluga caviar from the entire Black Sea basin. In January 2006, CITES announced they were "unable to approve the [caviar] export quotas" for 2006 from wild fish stocks. So once upon a time, a majority of caviar did come from the Caspian Sea but now not so much, definitely not 95%. However, the Caspian sea does only has 3 native sturgeon and those 3 are Beluga, Osetra, and Sevruga.
  • "A little known fact about caviar is that it shouldn’t touch metal like silver. Otherwise, the eggs will take on a metallic taste. Instead, you’ll need to serve it in a glass bowl, preferably crystal. To remove it from its container, you’ll need to use a wooden, glass or gold spoon."
    • FACT CHECK: True. Caviar should be served in chilled glass dishes (bowls), preferably made of crystal. Using a metallic spoon, such as silver, could impair your sense of taste by the metallic elements that the spoon consists of. By using a glass (bone, horn, wooden) spoon and bowl, you will have an opportunity to taste the real caviar flavor and guarantees fresh flavor.
  • "To serve caviar properly, it should be kept on ice."
    • FACT CHECK: True. Serving caviar that is frozen or at room temperature could damage the flavor. You want the full experience when tasting caviar and serving it chilled over ice guarantees freshness (much like storing it refrigerated versus frozen) and flavor.
  • "Sturgeon have survived since the days the dinosaurs roamed the Earth. Commercial fishermen have hunted sturgeon for their roe and meat since at least 1100 BC. Ancient Greek and Roman literature refers to caviar, and the Chinese were trading it as early as the 10th century AD."
    • FACT CHECK: Sturgeon is the common name for the 27 species of fish belonging to the family Acipenseridae. Their evolution has been dated back to the Triassic era, some 208 to 245 million years ago. Middle-Age Greeks, Romans and Chinese have have documented in literature that they did indeed enjoy the delicacy that is caviar. The term "Ancient" here should be taken lightly as the first recorded account of caviar was from Batu Khan’s time (grandson of Genghis Khan) in the 1240s (far from "Ancient" culture, more medieval or Middle-Age). It's hard to say that sturgeon have been hunted since 1100 BC seeing as we don't have record of such events. It can be assumed that caviar was indeed harvested before the 1240s but we couldn't find any record of such.
  • "A single Sturgeon can produce hundreds of pounds of roe, though the very largest fish are extremely rare today, following decades of over-fishing, poaching, pollution and habitat loss."

    • FACT CHECK: A specific sturgeon, the Beluga, is the largest of all sturgeons. A single Beluga can produce around 38 to 45 pounds of roe. Smaller sturgeons, such as Osetra, yield about 3 to 5 pounds of roe. It's a stretch to say that a single sturgeon can produce hundred of pounds of roe (otherwise possible over the entire life span of a single Beluga)in a single yield, especially in regard to all types of Sturgeon. Beluga are now a critically endangered species and it is illegal to fish or harvest Beluga and their roe. This is indeed due to decades of over-fishing, poaching, pollution and habitat loss.
  • "July 18th is National Caviar Day."
    • FACT CHECK: True. National Caviar Day is July 18th. 
  • "Of the most concern is the beluga sturgeon, which produces beluga caviar, whose populations have declined more than 90 percent in the past two decades. Experts believe beluga sturgeon are so depleted that they may no longer be reproducing in the wild."
    • FACT CHECK: Populations of beluga sturgeon have declined by nearly 90 percent in the past several decades (about 60 years) due to the high demand for black caviar, inadequate management, and habitat degradation. Experts are concerned that Beluga are so endangered that they are not reproducing enough in the wild to sustain the fight against the many threats that haunt the species. It's documented that survival of the Beluga can only depend on stocking and effective fisheries management and combating illegal fishing. Range states are also encouraged to provide protection to the species spawning and feeding grounds.
  • "Demand for the delicacy is highest in the European Union, Switzerland, the United States and Japan, which together account for 95 percent of the world’s total caviar imports."
    • FACT CHECK: The United States is the biggest importer of caviar in the world, totaling about 15% of all caviar imports. However, even the entirety of the EU together with the United States, Switzerland and Japan do not account for 95% of all caviar imports. The United Arab Emirates, Malaysia and Australia together account for about 10% of all caviar imports immediately disproving that 95% of all caviar imports come from just the EU, USA, Switzerland and Japan.
  • "The United States is the largest market for beluga caviar, importing 60 percent of world supplies. Imported caviar sells for $100 an ounce or more in the United States. From 1989 to 1997, the United States imported an average of 130,000 pounds of caviar per year, worth about $6.6 million."

    • FACT CHECK: The United States consumed 60 percent of the world exports of beluga caviar in 2005, a $200-an-oz. delicacy that is considered "the king of caviar." In 2006, the US placed a ban on imports of beluga caviar and the sturgeon that produces the expensive eggs originating from the Black Sea basin. 1989 to 1997 is too dated to state with relevance to today's world. This statistic should be more current such as the United States imported 14.7% of the world's caviar in 2016 equaling $13.6 million.

Sources: 


New World Encyclopedia

Atonius Caviar

Markys Caviar

Caviar Guide

Sterling Caviar

History of Greek Food

Facts and Details

History of Caviar

Wikipedia

Chicago Tribune

WWF

Stony Brook University

The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species

World's Richest Countries

NBC News

NY Times

Sterling Caviar

beluga-caviar.com


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