Sushi barcoding in the UK: another kettle of fish


Labelfish partners from the University of Salford, UK, have just had their paper on the occurrence of mislabelling across 31 sushi restaurants in Manchester, London, Bristol, Liverpool, Exeter and Newcastle published.

2016-04-11 (2)


Although the spread of sushi restaurants in the European Union and United States is a relatively new phenomenon, they have rapidly become among the most popular food services globally. Recent studies indicate that they can be associated with very high levels (>70%) of fish species substitution. Based on indications that the European seafood retail sector may currently be under better control than its North American counterpart, here we investigated levels of seafood labelling accuracy in sushi bars and restaurants across England. We used the COI barcoding gene to screen samples of tuna, eel, and a variety of other products characterised by less visually distinctive ‘white flesh’. Moderate levels of substitution were found (10%), significantly lower than observed in North America, which lends support to the argument that public awareness, policy and governance of seafood labels is more effective in the European Union. Nevertheless, the results highlight that current labelling practice in UK restaurants lags behind the level of detail implemented in the retail sector, which hinders consumer choice, with potentially damaging economic, health and environmental consequences. Specifically, critically endangered species of tuna and eel continue to be sold without adequate information to consumers.


For access to the full paper please click here.