Canada’s Current Epidemic: Mislabelled Seafood

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Part of our goal at Berezan Shrimp Company is to eliminate risk of fraudulently labelling of our seafood. A recent investigation conducted by Oceana Canada demonstrates that we are currently facing an epidemic of mislabelled seafood, which does not meet government requirements.

Oceana Canada staff collected 382 seafood samples from 177 retailers and restaurants in Halifax, Ottawa, Toronto, Vancouver and Victoria for the report, Seafood Fraud and Mislabelling across Canada. In addition to the 44%  of samples (168 total) that did not meet the labelling requirements set out by CFIA, the report found:

Mislabelling rates were highest in restaurants, where 52% of samples were mislabelled. In contrast, food retailers, including grocery stores and markets, reported mislabelling rates of 22 per cent.

Of the 177 food businesses assessed, 64% sold mislabelled fish (114 businesses). Oceana Canada found fraud in 70% of the restaurants tested (95 out of 136 restaurants) and 46% of the retailers (19 of 41 retailers). All 10 of the samples labelled “butterfish” and 10 of the 15 samples labelled “white tuna” actually turned out to be escolar. This oily fish can cause acute gastrointestinal symptoms such as diarrhea, vomiting and nausea. Italy and Japan have banned the sale of escolar due to its potential side effects, with the Japanese government considering it to be toxic.

In 74% of instances of mislabelling (124 out of 168 samples), the fish listed on restaurant menus or the label was a more expensive variety than the fish actually being sold. Of mislabelled samples, three species including tilapia, escolar and Japanese amberjack, accounted for almost 40% of substitutions.

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