RECENT studies have found mislabelling of products in the fishing industry to be rife.
A local study, which was published earlier this year, proposed the development of an analytical tool to authenticate fish species.
Researchers did DNA tests on 248 fish samples collected from seafood wholesalers and retailers across the country.
They found 67 percent of mislabelling incidents by retailers involved species which were from a different species to the ones declared on the label.
They also found that five of the nine retail samples that were labelled as yellowtail showed 100 percent similarity with another fish called Japanese amberjack.
Overall they found that 31 percent from retailers and 9 percent of samples from wholesalers were identified as different species to the ones indicated at the point of sale. They found that the highest level of mislabelling occurred in KwaZulu-Natal.
The study highlighted that existing legislation for seafood marketing was inadequate or poorly enforced and requiring urgent revision.
“In the light of the results presented here, DNA barcoding appears to hold great potential for fish authentication monitoring by both regulatory bodies and industry, the utilisation of which could enhance transparency and fair trade in the domestic fisheries market,” the researchers said.
In one 2009 study, researchers took 178 samples from some of the most popular fish in the local market and found that most problematic was kob for which 84 percent of fillets provided belonged to other species, including mackerel and warehou.
first published in the Cape Argus on June 25, 2012