Anyone for 'sardine-type canned product' on toast? Probably not. But that may not stop international food standards experts from adopting a new rule to make the labelling of tinned fish more accurate. They will decide this month whether to update the Codex Alimentarius to ensure that sprat and herring can no longer be labelled as sardines by canners. If the proposals were given the go-ahead, labels would only be able to indicate the contents as 'sardine-type canned product', and the fish's locally recognised name in the country where it is sold. The species sardinus pilchardus alone would qualify for the sardine appelation.

It follows claims from fishing groups in Spain, where the bulk of EU sardine supplies are canned, that fraudulently labelled fish was finding its way into the EU. UK standards outlaw the practice, but one supplier told The Grocer that the European sourcing programmes of foreign supermarket chains in Britain could undermine that.