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Study finds widespread seafood fraud in Canadian cities

DNA analysis of seafood products showed widespread mislabelling and, in some cases, the mislabelled products are species that are not authorised for sale within Canada.

18 October 2019, at 9:50am

According to reporting in the Times Colonist, a study tracking rates of food fraud in Canada found that more than 60 percent of seafood products tested at grocery stores and restaurants in Montreal, Quebec were mislabelled.

“The numbers reflect that this is an ongoing problem,” said Sayara Thurston, a seafood fraud campaigner with Oceana Canada, which conducted the investigation. In July 2019, the organisation tested 90 samples from 50 locations in Montreal and found that 61 per cent of seafood wasn’t as advertised.

A commercial lab in Guelph, Ontario used DNA barcoding to analyse the seafood samples and identify each of the species. If found 31 products were a different species than was claimed, 21 were mislabelled and three contained species that are not authorised for sale within Canada.

These results, when combined with previous investigations dating back to 2017, found 47 percent of the 472 samples were mislabelled in urban centres like Montreal, Victoria, Vancouver, Toronto, Ottawa and Halifax.

A report from 2018 found a mislabelling rate of 44 percent from five of the cities excluding Montreal. Victoria had the highest mislabelling rate (67 percent) and Vancouver had the lowest overall rate of mislabelling (26 percent).

Read more about this story here.

Thumbnail credit: Grieg Seafood.