27 february 2013

Fish fraud scandal


(Julie Van Rosendaal/CBC)
When you pay for a fish dinner, are you getting the fish you think you are?

With the spreading scandal of horse meat being substituted in meat products being sold as beef or pork, comes a new scandal.

That expensive filet of fish you buy at the supermarket, or purchase in a restaurant and the sushi bar, may very well not be the fish you are paying for.

In fact, there’s a fairly good chance you’re getting a cheaper, less desirable, species of fish.

Chris Weland is a forensic DNA specialist, a hi-tech detective of sorts, at the Canadian Centre for DNA Barcoding based in the Biodiversity Institute of Ontario at the University of Guelph.

The Barcode Of Life Database, or BOLD,  is a Canadian innovation and is used to easily discover the true identity of species, whether meat or fish for example.

Recently studies conducted at the Institute have found widespread mislabelling or substitution of species, almost always a “cheaper” species being substituted for a more desirable and expensive one.
It is the largest ever market study of mislabeled seafood.

Commissioned by Oceana, the oceans advocacy group, the University of Guelph’s Biodiversity Institute of Ontario  (BIO) found widespread misrepresentation of fish products. 

The Canadian Centre for DNA Barcoding analyzed some 1,200 samples of fish products from 700 restaurants and stores which had been collected from 21 US states. 

(photo: Jaclyn McKeown/Biodiversity Institute of Ontario) Forensic scientist Chris Weland collecting a tissue specimen for analysis, while submitted samples await

They found that during the two-year study,  33% of the samples tested were mislabeled,  The highest substitution occurred in sushi outlets (74%), followed by restaurants (38%) and grocery stores (18%)

Other findings pointed out that snapper and tuna were the most misrepresented at 87 and 59% respectively

This study follows a similar but smaller one conducted by the Centre at the University of Guelph, which tested fish samples in Guelph, Toronto, and New York City and which showed similar substitution results.

(photo: Jaclyn McKeown/Biodiversity Institute of Ontario) Chris Weland examining 96 DNA sequences called barcodes from submitted fish samples against the DNA information in the Biodiversity of Life Database (BOLD)"

The Barcode of Life Database is a Canadian innovation and is now providing a valuable commercial biospecimen identification service. The Fish barcode of life had become an international research collaboration to build a reference library of the world marince species, including fish, plants and algaes.

RCI’s Marc Montgomery spoke to Chris Weland at his office in the University of Guelph
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28 February 2013 - 10:54

To think, food businesses can substitute one product for another and they can get paid for it.

Sent by Edward Schweikert, Albany, GA, USA

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