An upcoming report investigating the freshness of fish sold in U.S. supermarkets will not name any stores where samples were taken, a spokesperson for ABC's "Good Morning America" said Friday (27 October). Nonetheless, fish and food marketing groups reportedly were alerting their members to be prepared for unfavorable news.

The program is scheduled to be aired next Thursday (November 2), the spokesperson said.

"We expect this story to reflect badly upon the seafood industry in general, and retailers in particular" the National Fisheries Institute said in an alert issued this week to its members.

The NFI said an investigative consumer unit of the ABC program took five samples of seafood from each of five stores -- four supermarkets and one seafood market -- in seven major metropolitan areas: Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, New York City, Portland, Ore.; and Tampa, Fla.

"No store names were mentioned in our piece, so it will not be detrimental to any store," the network spokesperson told StoreAlliance.com. A news release on the program was expected to be issued later today, ABC News said.

According to NFI, investigators took a total of 175 samples. The samples were reportedly sent to a chain of laboratories to test for aerobic plate count (total microorganisms), fecal coliform and E. coli (and, in some cases, tested for E. coli 0157:H.) .

NFI told its members that aerobic plate counts are an "imprecise measure of the total microbial population on the food."

"Past experience by researchers indicate that it is possible to have two products with equally high levels of microorganisms, as measured by APC, with one product exhibiting poor quality and the other good quality," the NFI said.

According to the alert, about 12 percent showed low levels (less than 400 organisms) of E. coli, and none tested positive for E. coli 0157:H (an illness-causing variety of E. coli).

"The levels do not exceed the guidelines of the International Commission on Microbiological Specifications for Food," the NFI said.

The Food Marketing Institute reportedly was also alerting its members to the upcoming show, but a spokesman was not immediately available for comment.