Something fishy going on with seafood labeling in Mississauga

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According to a new study, there is a “seafood fraud” problem in Canada.

The study, published today by Oceana Canada, found that out of 472 samples of seafood containers collected between 2017 and 2019, nearly half--47 per cent--were mislabeled.

The samples were taken from six Canadian cities: Victoria, Montreal, Toronto, Ottawa, Halifax, and Vancouver.

Of the samples taken from Toronto, nearly two thirds--59 per cent--were mislabeled. Oftentimes, the products that were being mislabeled were being substituted for cheaper options.

“We have found farmed fish served up as wild caught, cheaper species substituted for more expensive ones and fish banned in many countries because of health risks masquerading as another species,” Josh Laughren, executive director at Oceana Canada, said in a news release.

“We’ve also uncovered rampant problems with Canada’s seafood traceability and labelling standards. Canadians deserve to know that their seafood is safe, honestly labelled and legally caught,” he continued.

“The good news is that there is a solution: implementing boat-to-plate traceability and comprehensive labelling in Canadian seafood supply chains. This means requiring key information to be paired with fish products from the point of harvest to the point of sale,” Laughren added. “This will reduce instances of fraud and mislabelling, protect Canadian consumers, honest fishers and vulnerable fish populations, and help Canada’s seafood industry access global markets-many of which already demand stronger traceability.”

Data has shown boat-to-plate traceability regulations help stop fraud and protect both consumers and our oceans.

Through stricter traceability and labeling requirements, the European Union, the world’s largest seafood importer, managed to cut fraud rates to just seven per cent over just three years.

“Canada lags far behind our largest trading partners in providing Canadian consumers with comprehensive and accurate labelling information about where their seafood is coming from,” Sayara Thurston, seafood fraud campaigner at Oceana Canada, said.

“Seafood follows a complex and obscure path, often crossing many national borders before it reaches our plate. There is a risk of fraud and mislabelling at each step along the way. If Canada’s traceability requirements continue to lag behind those of our major trading partners, our food safety reputation is at risk,” Thurston continued. “Oceana Canada is calling on the government to swiftly implement boat-to-plate traceability in line with global best practices.”

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