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As news media reports from Toronto to New York trumpeted results of a Canadian study that claimed a quarter of the store- and restaurant-bought fish collected in a test was mislabeled, the U.S. seafood industry’s leading trade organization was reminding retailers to procure from Better Seafood Bureau (BSB) member companies, as a way to weed false marketing out of the market.
Results of the species labeling study—which enlisted the help of American teenagers to collect seafood samples for DNA testing -- were published by the University of Guelph as part of an international network of researchers working with the Fish Barcode of Life campaign.
“While there is no way for us to speak to the validity of the study, or its results, it highlights the fact that the integrity of the whole seafood industry is under scrutiny and even allegations of mislabeling and specie substitution can have a serious impact,” said John Connelly, president of the National Fisheries Institute.
Last summer, NFI established the Better Seafood Bureau to provide a mechanism for industry’s partners in the supply chain – restaurants, retail operations, producers and processors - to report suppliers committing economic fraud. The bureau also opened a hotline where victims could report mislabeling.
“When you do business with a BSB member you can have peace of mind that you’re not going to end up on the wrong end of a DNA test,” said BSB secretary Lisa Weddig, noting that “it’s unlikely that this is the last round of DNA seafood tests we’ll see in the media.”
Suggestions in the media that people are unwittingly being served endangered species, said Connelly, “Is a bit of a stretch that puts this story on the road to unnecessary hysteria. But the bottom line is, any type of specie substitution is not only unethical it’s illegal. BSB members have gotten that message loud and clear.”