New claims over fish mislabelling in UK and Ireland –

New claims over fish mislabelling in UK and Ireland Published:  22 July, 2011

THERE are new claims that too many fish products in Britain and Ireland are being deliberately mislabelled, with the Irish getting the rougher end of the deal.

A  recent study by researchers in University College Dublin and published in the journal “Fish and Fisheries” has found a significant number of instances in both countries where cheaper white fish is  being sold as more expensive cod or are wrongly being presented as sustainably sourced.

A similar study from Dublin a year ago highlighted the same problem and a few months ago researchers at Bangor University in Wales said some supermarkets were selling dishes with cheap fish that was not listed on the labels.

The journal said: ” Combining both the UK and Irish samples, a total of 44 out of  226 (19.5 per cent ) cod products were mislabelled. Considerably, more examples of mislabelling were found in the samples purchased from Ireland (37 out of 131 samples or  28.2 per cent ) when compared to those purchased in the UK (seven out  of 95 samples, or 7.4 per cent).

“Although the occurrence of cod mislabelling was found significantly more often in Ireland than the UK, we feel that both national rates of mislabelling revealed in this investigation were unacceptably high, especially considering the strict EU seafood traceability and labelling policies that are in place and hold effect in both member .”

The researchers  found that  it was haddock, saithe and pollock which were passed off as cod to make a profit,  with some brands labelled as “sustainably sourced” which turned out to be endangered Atlantic cod

The report added: “As both the UK and Ireland import a large amount of the seafood that is domestically available for purchase and consumption, seafood mislabelling potentially has direct and indirect repercussions for both local and foreign fishing industries.”

The researchers say several actions could be taken to reduce the occurrence of seafood fraud. Internationally, efforts should be made to promote an increased public awareness about seafood sustainability issues. Knowledgeable and concerned consumers would demand more informative seafood labels and would be less vulnerable to trickery through species substitution.

Additionally, effective legislation in relation to seafood and fisheries industry management must be created and enforced to ensure a system is in place that could monitor industry operations and help to prevent fraud.