Nav: Home

Seafood mislabelling persistent throughout supply chain, study finds

February 07, 2019

Not only does Canada continue to have a problem with fish mislabelling, but that problem persists throughout the supply chain, according to a first-ever study by University of Guelph researchers.

In a new study, U of G researchers found 32 per cent of fish were mislabelled and the number of incorrectly identified samples became compounded as the samples moved through the food system.

"We've been doing seafood fraud studies for a decade," said Prof. Robert Hanner, lead author and associate director for the Canadian Barcode of Life Network. "We know there are problems. But this is the first study to move beyond that and look at where the problems are happening throughout the food supply chain."

The findings reveal that mislabelling happens before fish are imported into Canada, as well as throughout the supply chain, Hanner added.

"It seems it's not isolated to foreign markets, but it's also happening at home. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) has partnered with us to actively find solutions to this persistent problem," said Hanner.

Published recently in the journal Food Research International, the study was conducted in collaboration with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA).

Hanner is the associate Director for the Canadian Barcode of Life Network, headquartered at the Biodiversity Institute of Ontario, University of Guelph.

"As a science-based regulator, the CFIA works with an array of partners to address mislabelling and promote compliance within industry," said the CFIA's Deputy Chief Food Safety Office, Dr. Aline Dimitri. "It is only through our collective efforts that we will be able to tackle this global issue."

U of G researchers examined 203 samples from 12 key targeted species collected from various importers, processing plants and retailers in Ontario. Of the samples, 141 (69.5 per cent) were from retailers, 51 (25 per cent) from importers and 11 (5.5 per cent) from processing plants.

Researchers identified the samples using DNA barcoding. Developed at U of G, DNA barcoding allows scientists to determine species of organisms using a short, standardized region of genetic material.

The findings revealed 32 per cent of the samples overall were mislabelled. The mislabelling rate was 17.6 per cent at the import stage, 27.3 per cent at processing plants and 38.1 per cent at retailers.

"The higher mislabelling rate in samples collected from retailers, compared to that for samples collected from importers, indicates the role of distribution and repackaging in seafood mislabelling," said Hanner.

He points to a few reasons for the problem.

"It's either economically motivated, meaning cheaper fish are being purposely mislabelled as more expensive fish. Or it's inconsistent labelling regulations between countries and the use of broader common names being used to label fish instead of scientific species names that are leading to mislabelling."

In both Canada and the U.S., fish are labelled using a common name rather than a specific scientific name. For example, a variety of species may be sold as tuna, although different species can significantly vary in price.

"It creates ambiguity and opens the door for fraud or honest mistakes," he said. "It also makes it more difficult to track species at risk or indicate if a fish is a species that has higher mercury content. At the end of the day, Canadian consumers don't really know what type of fish they are eating."

European countries that recently included species names along with common names have seen less fraud, he added.

That might help curb the problem with fish imports, Hanner said, but this new study shows a need for verification testing at multiple points along the supply chain.

"The next step would be to follow one package from import to wholesale to retail and see what happens."
-end-
Contact:

Prof. Robert Hanner
rhanner@uoguelph.ca

University of Guelph

Related Dna Barcoding Articles:

Penn State DNA ladders: Inexpensive molecular rulers for DNA research
New license-free tools will allow researchers to estimate the size of DNA fragments for a fraction of the cost of currently available methods.
It is easier for a DNA knot...
How can long DNA filaments, which have convoluted and highly knotted structure, manage to pass through the tiny pores of biological systems?
Better barcoding: New library of DNA sequences improves plant identification
Researchers from the Department of Environmental Science at Emory University have used publicly available data to develop a sequence library of the rbcL gene, a popular barcode in plants, for use in DNA metabarcoding studies.
Electrons use DNA like a wire for signaling DNA replication
A Caltech-led study has shown that the electrical wire-like behavior of DNA is involved in the molecule's replication.
Switched-on DNA
DNA, the stuff of life, may very well also pack quite the jolt for engineers trying to advance the development of tiny, low-cost electronic devices.
Finding our way around DNA
A Salk team developed a tool that maps functional areas of the genome to better understand disease.
DNA 'barcoding' allows rapid testing of nanoparticles for therapeutic delivery
Using tiny snippets of DNA as 'barcodes,' researchers have developed a new technique for rapidly screening the ability of nanoparticles to selectively deliver therapeutic genes to specific organs of the body.
A 'strand' of DNA as never before
In a carefully designed polymer, researchers at the Institute of Physical Chemistry of the Polish Academy of Sciences have imprinted a sequence of a single strand of DNA.
Efficiency of insect biodiversity monitoring via Malaise trap samples and DNA barcoding
An international team of scientists evaluated the performance of DNA barcoding and the barcode reference library applied to large-scale Malaise trap samples from two German sites over the span of one summer.
Doubling down on DNA
The African clawed frog X. laevis genome contains two full sets of chromosomes from two extinct ancestors.

Related Dna Barcoding Reading:

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Digital Manipulation
Technology has reshaped our lives in amazing ways. But at what cost? This hour, TED speakers reveal how what we see, read, believe — even how we vote — can be manipulated by the technology we use. Guests include journalist Carole Cadwalladr, consumer advocate Finn Myrstad, writer and marketing professor Scott Galloway, behavioral designer Nir Eyal, and computer graphics researcher Doug Roble.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#529 Do You Really Want to Find Out Who's Your Daddy?
At least some of you by now have probably spit into a tube and mailed it off to find out who your closest relatives are, where you might be from, and what terrible diseases might await you. But what exactly did you find out? And what did you give away? In this live panel at Awesome Con we bring in science writer Tina Saey to talk about all her DNA testing, and bioethicist Debra Mathews, to determine whether Tina should have done it at all. Related links: What FamilyTreeDNA sharing genetic data with police means for you Crime solvers embraced...