The Marine Stewardship Council has recently published “From Ocean to Plate: How DNA testing helps to ensure traceable, sustainable seafood”.
Seafood fraud – the selling of seafood products with a misleading label, description or promise – has become a widespread form of food fraud. Not only does it threaten the bottom line of reputable fishers and seafood traders, it undermines the progress being made by sustainable fisheries and can allow illegal and unregulated fishing practices to go undetected.
A recent global analysis suggested that on average 30% of seafood products are misdescribed or mislabelled. A traceable supply chain is vital to delivering the MSC’s vision of healthy oceans and its promise to consumers that MSC labelled seafood comes from a sustainable source. In 1999, the MSC developed its Chain of Custody Standard to ensure that every distributor, processor, and retailer trading in MSC certified sustainable seafood has effective traceability systems in place. To verify that these traceability requirements are effective, the MSC conducts biannual DNA tests on a random sample of MSC labelled products. The latest tests have revealed that 99.6% of MSC labelled seafood is correctly labelled. The study successfully sampled 256 unique products and 13 species of fish, sourced from retailers across 16 countries. These results are consistent with previous years’ and show that on average, the MSC’s DNA testing has found a mislabelling rate of less than 1% for MSC labelled seafood since 2009. The results of the MSC’s DNA testing program are very positive. Nevertheless, the MSC takes traceability very seriously and continues to monitor the certified seafood supply chain very closely. Looking to the future, the scope of the MSC’s testing program will be broadened to other seafood products and explore the use of new technologies to verify the authenticity of sustainable seafood.
Please click here to access the full report.