Researchers reviewed more than 200 published studies from 55 countries on every continent except Antarctica and found that one in five seafood samples were frauds. A total of 25,000 samples were analyzed.
“The path seafood travels from the fishing boat or farm to our dinner plates is long, complex and non-transparent, rife with opportunities for fraud and mislabeling,” said Beth Lowell, Oceana’s senior campaign director.
The study showed that seafood mislabeling can occur at any point during the supply chain, including retail, wholesale, distribution, import/export, packing/processing and landing.
The study, “2016: The Global Reach of Seafood Fraud” explained that seafood fraud not only cheats consumers out of what they think they purchased, but it also poses potential health and environmental risks. In fact, the researchers found that 58 percent of the samples substituted for other seafood were a species that could pose a health risk for certain individuals.
Another striking example highlighted in the study noted that in Brazil, 55 percent of “shark” samples were actually largetooth sawfish, which are considered to be critically endangered by the IUCN and trading of the fish is prohibited in Brazil.
Asian catfish, hake and escolar were the three types of fish that are most likely to be substituted worldwide. Asian catfish alone was sold as 18 different types of higher-value fish, the analysis found.