Education

What is the level of fishy fraud?

By CCH

My goodness I can hear you say, He’s on one of his fish rants again. You know I love fish and you know my preference. But as I said previously, different tastes for different pallets. But you should know what you are purchasing. I saw green cod in a supermarket the other day. My first question is what is that? Google helped sort of. It said the fish was a pollock. Well that says it all actually.

 

Anyhow, I thought I’d share some information that was published in a Canadian newspaper earlier this year. This covered Salmon but also a more prevalent issue of mislabeling food. I would suggest that this is very common in Hong Kong and I also wrote on this previously and encouraged you, the consumer, to be more alert.

 

So back to the article, which revealed that 60 per cent of seafood products tested at Montreal grocery stores and restaurants were mislabeled, and concluded that the numbers reflect that this is an ongoing problem. In July 2019, the organization conducting the research tested 90 samples from 50 locations in Montreal and found that 61 per cent of seafood wasn't as advertised. The 2018 report found the mislabeling rate of 44 per cent in data from five of the cities.

 

I have to agree with the writer of the original article that no amount of mislabeling, no amount of fraud is acceptable. So, what is the problem?? It is important to flag that food fraud is not limited to the seafood industry, but is particularly problematic there because of a complicated supply chain. Normally in seafood the frauds include swapping cheaper fish and passing them off as more expensive fillets, or putting false, incomplete or misleading information on a label. An example of this was a few years ago when one of Hong Kong’s top retailers was selling Oil fish as Atlantic cod. It came to light a people became ill due to the high oil content in the fish. And there’s the rub.

 

This mislabeling type fraud presents a potential health risk with consumers possibly exposed to parasites, allergens, contaminants, aquaculture drugs and pesticides used in industrial farming operations, or natural toxins found in certain species. The consumer is obviously also being hurt in the pocket, when they are supplied lower-cost fish that are swapped with more-expensive varieties. Further ramifications are the impression created that some fish are more abundantly available and undermine efforts to curb overfishing and other conservation attempts.

 

So back to the consumer. We have realised for some time that the message of ‘sustainability’ has been difficult in Hong Kong and Asia as a whole. However, people are generally concerned about health and safety. Traceability for sustainability supports information for proper food safety as the chain of custody can facilitate trace-back during an investigation on food misrepresentation

 

So again, support a sustainability imitative by your concerns for food safety. Keep the supplier honest.

 

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