Powered by Blogger.

Monday, April 25, 2011

The great supermarket fish scam: Shoppers 'are being duped into buying mislabelled species'

By Paul Sims

-6% of products contained fish not even mentioned on the label
-Young's Dippers made using Vietnamese River Cobbler

In one case, a packet of Young's Flipper Dippers - labelled as containing Alaska Pollock (below) - was made using the Vietnamese river cobbler, a freshwater catfish. And in another case a smoked haddock pie, promising the finest 'flaked North Atlantic haddock', contained the cheaper Pacific cod

Shoppers are being duped by major supermarkets into buying portions of fish that contain other, much cheaper species, it has been claimed.

A total of 400 fish dishes bought from Asda, Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Morrisons, Waitrose and Lidl were DNA tested as part of a new study.

And the analysis of the tests revealed that 23 portions – six per cent - contained species of fish not even mentioned on the label.

The Alaskan Pollock is a member of the cod family. It is claimed that in its place the Vietnamese River Cobber (below) was used

With Britons consuming 4.4billion portions of fish each year that means 264million could potentially contain the wrong fish.

Some portions of haddock on sale were, in fact, cod, the research found.

In one case a packet of Young’s Flipper Dippers – labelled as containing Alaska Pollock - was made using the Vietnamese river cobbler, a freshwater catfish.

And in another case a smoked haddock pie, promising the finest ‘flaked North Atlantic haddock’, contained the cheaper Pacific cod.

Last night, campaigners claimed the findings undermined fish conservation and were of ‘serious concern’ at a time of dwindling fish stocks.

Celebrity chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall said: ‘In an era where the stocks of almost every fish species on the planet are a matter of deep concern, it is vital that every fish that reaches market is labelled and sold for what it is.’

As part of the study experts from Bangor University carried out DNA tests on the fish samples. Overall, six per cent of the 400 samples tested were mislabelled.

Four of the 63 fish products bought from Tesco contained the wrong fish.

In one case, its creamy fish pie was not made with the prime smoked haddock it promised, but with cod.

Elsewhere, three of the 59 samples purchased from Asda failed to contain the right fish.

Its cod fishcakes actually contained haddock whilst a haddock pie and a haddock fillet were made using Atlantic cod.

At Waitrose two out of 28 samples tested were mislabelled.

One of them, a mini smoked haddock pie offering ‘flaked North Atlantic haddock’, actually contained cheap Pacific cod.

A quarter of the 12 samples taken and tested from German-owned Lidl also contained the wrong fish.

Its Ocean Trader Atlantic cod fillets contained cheaper Pacific cod whilst its Reef Crest ‘smoked haddock’ fishcakes were made from Atlantic cod.

At Morrisons six of the 71 products sampled were mislabelled whilst at Sainsbury’s two out of 63 samples contained a much cheaper cod than what was on offer.

Out of 30 samples from Young’s, only the Flipper Dippers appeared to have been mislabelled.

Dr Sarah Helyar, who carried out the analysis for the Greenpeace-Sunday Times research, said: ‘The study shows that the overall rate of mislabelling appears to be low, but this is a huge industry.

‘If replicated across outlets nationwide, the impact would undoubtedly be significant both in terms of consequences for the conservation and management of our fish stocks, and on the costs to consumers.’

Gary Carvalho, professor of molecular ecology at Bangor University and an expert in fish genetics, oversaw the study.

He said: ‘(The study) suggests that fish are being landed and marketed outside of the quotas set by governments for vulnerable species.

‘That undermines the conservation and management of dwindling fish stocks.’

John Sauven, the executive director for Greenpeace, said: ‘Our supermarkets promote themselves on the sustainability of their products but this study shows they need to clean up their act.

‘Misleading customers is one thing. Selling fish from depleted stocks labelled as something else is even worse.’

Today, Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Waitrose all promised to launch an immediate investigation into the findings.

Andrew Opie, director of food and sustainability for the British Retail Consortium, said: 'We haven’t been given the chance to see these results in detail, and DNA tests of this nature haven’t always proved to be reliable.’

The findings come just two years after the Food Standards Agency collected 380 samples of fish from restaurants, fish and chip shops and pubs.

They found that 10 per cent of the meals contained a different fish species from the one on the menu, with haddock often replacing cod.

Although a rare occurrence those caught mis-selling fish can be prosecuted by trading standards.

In 2009, the Cat Hill fish bar in Bromsgrove, Worcestershire, was fined £4,000 plus costs under the Food Safety Act for passing off Vietnamese catfish as cod.

And last year Balbir Singh Bachra, of the Trident Fish Bar in Market Harborough, was prosecuted for a similar offence, detected through DNA tests.

A 2010 study by the University College Dublin collected 156 samples of cod and haddock from supermarkets, fishmongers’ shops and takeaway restaurants throughout the city and found that a quarter were not the species described on the label or menu.



Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.

Twitter Delicious Facebook Digg Stumbleupon Favorites More

Top Web Hosting | manhattan lasik | websites for accountants