- Oceana Canada's recent investigation into seafood fraud shows that 61% of the seafood in Montreal was mislabelled.
- Try not to think too hard about your last fish taco as you read this report...
- What were you eating instead? Take a look at the data below.
A new study done by Oceana Canada has revealed rampant seafood fraud across the country. Even worse, it turns out that over half the seafood sold in Montreal is mislabelled.
The nationwide investigation was able to uncover that 47% of the samples collected in six major Canadian cities between 2017 and 2019 were mislabelled.
The study was conducted in Halifax, Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, Vancouver and Victoria over two years, with samples from both grocery stores and restaurants.
Oceana Canada claims this is the "most comprehensive study of seafood fraud and mislabelling" ever conducted in Canada, and they're hoping that it will help stop the practice.
Why is seafood fraud so bad (other than the obvious "mystery meat" overtones)? Well, 16% of the mislabelled samples could have "potential health consequences" for consumers.
Even more shocking, 53% of the mislabelled samples turned out to be endangered, threatened, or vulnerable species, meaning that consumers were unknowingly eating potentially at-risk species.
And if that doesn't piss you off, this will: 48% of the mislabelled samples were "labelled as a more expensive variety than the fish actually being sold."
In Montreal, in particular, the percentage of mislabelled food was astonishingly high, with more than half of fall seafood samples taken from grocery stores and restaurants being mislabelled.
The full Montreal data can be seen right here, where they indicate what was being sold and where (grocery store or restaurant) and if it was mislabelled, what type of seafood was actually identified in the lab.
What freaks me out are the listings that indicate whatever was being served was not even on the Canadian Food Inspection Agency Fish List, meaning giving it a market name was impossible.
Also shocking is the fact that Oceana Canada found 100% of snapper fish was mislabelled in Canada, meaning you can be almost certain the last time you ordered it, that's not what you were eating.
What Oceana Canada is hoping to accomplish with this study is a re-working of the labelling system in Canada. They explain that, as it works right now, in Canada, "the only information required on seafood labels is a generic marketplace name and the country where the seafood product was last processed."
However, these generic marketplace names leave a lot of room for misinformation. Over 200 species of fish can technically be listed as "snapper," but that generic name doesn't create space for different prices based on species. It also doesn't indicate the conservation status or health risks associated with the specific species of snapper.
Oceana Canada is proposing that we follow the European Union and require Latin scientific names as part of the label for fish, which is "universally recognized regardless of language, and is already used on many regulatory documents around the world."
To sign their petition for the Canadian Food Inspection Agency to change the way we label seafood in Canada, head to Oceana.ca/StopSeafoodFraud.