An Expert Guide to Caviar
Where to Buy Caviar Online?
Over the years, the online market for caviar has grown immensely. With this growth comes more questionable brands of caviar. Check out our steps below to know what to look for when purchasing.
Rod Browne Mitchell has almost 40 years of experience in the caviar trade. He is a leading world expert on the subject and ensures all caviar that leaves Browne Trading Co. is to the highest standard for freshness and quality. If you are interested in learning more about how Rod became the expert he is today, click here!
1. CHECK THE LABEL
A common red flag is anything pertaining to “Russian Osetra” or “Russian Imperial.” In most cases, “Russian” refers to the species, not the country of origin. Caviar from the Caspian Sea, all Russian osetra caviar, and ANY wild caviar export, has been closed since 2005 by CITES (Convention for Trade in Endangered Species).
When you see the word “Caspian” on the label, you should be wary of what is inside. “Caspian” refers to the sturgeon caught in the Caspian Sea that primarily borders Russia and Iran. It remains closed to the export of ANY caviar.
U.S. Fish and Wildlife monitor all caviar imported from outside the United States. Only purveyors with a CITES permit that assures the origin and species of the sturgeon are legitimate.
2. CAUTION WHEN BUYING “BELUGA”
Beware of any caviar labeled with “beluga,” “river beluga,” or “Chinese beluga.” Pure beluga sturgeon are entirely banned from import to the United States. It is a species that primarily exists in the Caspian Sea. Since beluga sturgeon (Huso Huso) is globally prohibited, anything named “river beluga” is most likely its cousin, Huso Dauricus, or Kaluga from China. Our beluga is a hybrid with siberian, which keeps it within regulation.
3. SIBERIAN STURGEON & OSETRA STURGEON CAVIAR
Caviar that is labeled “siberian osetra” is also misleading. The siberian sturgeon (Acipenser Baeri) is a separate species from osetra (Acipenser Gueldenstaedti). The osetra sturgeon produces a larger grain than its cousin, the siberian sturgeon, which is generally a smaller fish.
Quite often, deceiving dealers falsely advertise and sell them interchangeably. Siberian caviar should also be less expensive. The reason caviar labels wrongfully interchange osetra is that “osetra” literally translates to “sturgeon” in Russian. Because there are so many different species of sturgeon, Browne only uses “osetra” to describe actual osetra sturgeon species.
4. KNOW THE SPECIES
When shopping for caviar, you should be aware of the species, the country of origin, and the harvest date. All legitimately imported caviar is farm-raised due to the protective ban on wild sturgeon stocks.
Every importer is required by federal law to have a CITES Permit to ensure species accuracy, a “Certificate of Origin,” and a “Labeling Report” that specifies the harvest date. As a discerning customer, you should be able to request these documents. Beware if a supplier or dealer cannot produce these documents.
You should be able to trace your tin of caviar with a lot number that refers to the supplier’s legal documentation. The FDA also requires this in case of any food-related contamination or recall.
All caviar must have a “best by” date. This usually is placed on the container along with the lot number.
At Browne Trading, we take great pride in guaranteeing the highest quality, most transparent, and freshest caviars without any guesswork. Learn more about the caviars available.
~ Rod Browne Mitchell, Owner and President of Browne Trading Co.