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Store chains pledge investigation into fish mislabelling claims
Published:  26 April, 2011

A NUMBER of Britain's leading supermarkets have promised a thorough investigation into claims that some of their seafood dishes contained fish not listed on the labels.

The study was jointly commissioned by  Greenpeace and the Sunday Times and the DNA research work was undertaken by Bangor University in North Wales.

Details of the study were published in the Sunday Times at the weekend and said that of the 400 dishes and products DNA  tested,  the results showed that 23 of them - or six per cent - contained species of fish that were not  mentioned on the labels.

The stores concerned were named by the Sunday Times as Lidl, Morrisons, Waitrose, Tesco, Asda and Sainsbury's which had the best record with just two products out of 61 mislabelled. Most of the products will have been made at Grimsby or Hull or in Scotland.

The study also found that some packets of the children's favourite Young's Flipper Dippers did contain Alaska Pollack as labelled, but the researchers also found traces of Vietnamese catfish often called basa or pangasius.  All other Young's products tested were found to be fine.

A number of restaurants also came under the spotlight and  were found to be selling haddock as more expensive cod.

Celebrity chef High Fearnley-Whittingstall, who earlier this year launched a TV campaign to save fish stocks, said the at a time when some species were under threat it was important to ensure that all fish was correctly labelled.

Dr Sarah Helyer of Bangor University, said the study showed that the overall rate of mislabelling was low, but seafood production was a huge industry and if the problem was repeated across the country it could impact on the management of fish stocks.

It is conceded that production errors were probably to blame for some of the incidents.

The supermarkets mentioned said they needed more time to study the result of the tests, but promised to carry out a full investigation and, if errors were found,  they would recall the products affected. The British Retail Consortium said its members operated to the highest standards, but admitted  there was always the possibility of mistakes in production.

A similar study by Dublin University last year found that over 20  per cent of products sold in the Irish capital were mislabelled.

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