Cheaper DNA testing technology is making it easier than ever for regulators and seafood firms to crack down on seafood mislabelling.
Recent research has found that 25 to 41 per cent of the fish sold at retail and by restaurants is not actually the species listed on the label or the menu, making it almost impossible for consumers to make ethical and sustainable seafood choices.
So, Victoria-based seafood importer Tradex foods in December implemented DNA testing on seafood processed in China for its Sinbad house label.
Samples taken at overseas processing facilities are flown to the United States and tested by Illinois-based DNA sequencing and analysis company ACGT Inc. while the fish itself is in transit to North America by ship.
Between 10 and 30 samples are analyzed each month at about $70 per sample.
“A big part of our business model is centred around eliminating fraud which is rampant in our industry,” said Tradex spokesperson Ryan McKay. “We have definitely detected [species substitution] in our competitors’ products.”
Often restaurants and retailers are not even aware that substitution has taken place, the company says.
The Canadian Food Inspection Agency the federal agency responsible for verifying quality and labelling of seafood imports samples and inspects 5,000 lots of imported fish each year from over 1,000 fish importers.
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