Seafood fraud appears to be rife throughout the world according to a report from non-profit ocean conservation group Oceana which found that a fifth of more than 25,000 seafood samples are being mislabelled, mainly for economic gain.
With analysis of 200 studies from 55 countries on every continent except Antarctica, the group detected seafood fraud in almost every investigation. This incorrect labelling pervades every part of the seafood supply chain from landing, packaging and processing to wholesale, retail, distribution, import and export. Sixty-five per cent of the studies showed clear economic motivation for the deliberate mislabelling.
Seafood fraud was most prevalent in farmed Asian catfish with 141 instances of it being sold and substituted instead of more expensive fish such as perch, grouper and sole. Similarly, a consumer watchdog in the UK found a number of cases of fish being sold and misrepresented with whiting being substituted for haddock; and haddock being sold as cod, with the cheaper variety being passed off as the more expensive fish.
Beth Lowell of Oceana said: “It is likely that the average consumer has eaten mislabelled fish for sure.
“You’re getting ripped off, while you enjoyed your meal you’re paying a high price for a low fish.”
Worryingly, the report also found that 58 per cent of the samples substituted for other fish posed a health risk to consumers, for example, by swapping the stated fish for one with a high mercury content.
What’s more, there were also instances of endangered species being sold under other names.
Dr Kimberly Warner of Oceana said that changes need to be made in the global seafood industry: “Because illegal caught seafood, some caught or processed with slave labour, could be making its way onto our dinner plates disguised as legal catch, it is doubly important to improve transparency and accountability in the global seafood supply chain.
“The increased traceability and consumer labelling efforts in the EU point us to solutions that really do work to decrease seafood fraud, particularly in sectors and products covered by these legal provisions.
“The US government should take note and issue the strongest possible final traceability rule. Only full-chain traceability for all species will ensure our seafood is safe, legally caught and honestly labelled.”
With growing concern from consumers that they are actually eating what they think they are eating, it’s more important that ever that food companies ensure that they can demonstrate full sight of their entire supply chain. With the Authenticate IS platform providing food companies the ability to what has in the past been impossible and map the whole of the supply chain then this could help not only the fish industry but other sectors as well.
For more information on how to join the Authenticate IS platform or maximise your membership and safeguard your food business, call us on 01423 548 583 or email firstname.lastname@example.org