Seafood fraud is on the rise


September 26, 2016 Facebook Twitter LinkedIn Google+ Fishing and boaing news,Tuna information


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Fish is not always what it seems to be. Many cases of fraud are showing up according to Oceana. (http://usa.oceana.org} A new report out lists many cases of fraud and there is an interactive map ( http://oceana.org/seafoodfraudmap)showing where fraud occurred.

1 in 5 samples of more than 25,000 samples tested were mislabeled. This occurred in all parts on the chain from retail and wholesale to landing and packaging.

Some examples

  • Critically endangered largetooth sawfish was sold as shark in Brazil
  • Illegal whale meat was sold as fatty tuna in a Santa Monica sushi shop
  • 18 different white fish have been replaced by Asian catfish
  • In Italy, grouper and swordfish were substituted by fish on the endangered list
  • 98% of Bluefin tuna samples in Brussels were mislabeled.

In some cases these substitutions could cause sickness or harm such as allergy or increased mercury consumption. Many substitutions involve farm raised Asian catfish which are often exposed to potentially harmful chemicals and antibiotics. Asian catfish, hake and escolar, or oilfish are the most common types of fish substituted.

Asian catfish have been substituted for 18 varieties of fish, including, grouper, cod, sole, halibut, flounder, basa, hake, Pollock, and red snapper.

Law regarding the name a fish can be sold under in various countries and the US add to the confusion. As an example the US allows 66 different species to be labeled grouper.

Caviar is also widely substituted. In 3 cases the caviar contained no animal DNA at all.

Another issue is that seafood is being mislabeled to hide the fact that fishermen are fishing for protected or limited species. 33 species of fish are being sold as snapper in the US. This makes it hard to evaluate the status of the stock..In the case of grouper, some of the species being sold are the more controlled species like gulf grouper. Without forcing the species to be identified, depleted stocks are sent to market. Recreational fishermen are forced to abide by limits set for each individual species.

The European Union has implemented a plan to track seafood and to include mandatory labeling.

This includes:

  • Both commercial and common names of the fish
  • Production method – wild caught or farmed
  • The area here fish was caught or farmed
  • Fishing gear used
  • Frozen, partially frozen or fresh
  • Use by and best by dates
  • Allergen information

This regulation has reduced but not eliminated the problem in Europe. Ocean would like the following:

  1. Require all the labeling to follow the fish from catch to plate.
  2. Expand traceability requirements for seafood.
  3. Increase information available to consumers.