The UK seafood industry is, comparatively, better than many of its peers when it comes to labelling seafood accurately, the lead scientist behind yesterday’s fish mislabelling revelations has claimed.

Yesterday, the BBC reported the results of a study published last year by the University College Dublin (UCD) School of Biology & Environmental Science. The results showed that 28% of cod products purchased in Ireland were mislabelled, compared to 7% in the UK. 

Speaking to The Grocer, Dr Stefano Mariani, lead researcher of the study, said that while mislabelling was rife, the UK government and the seafood industry – through organisations such as the National Federation of Fish Friers – were helping to protect against it. “The UK is doing better than many countries in terms of rates of mislabelling, comparatively,” he said.

Paul Williams, chief executive of Industry body Seafish, said that any mislabelling was entirely unacceptable and damaging to the sector, but claimed the UK industry as well placed to deal with the issue. “Consumer confidence in the traceability of seafood is essential, and the UK seafood supply chain has robust systems and procedures in place to mitigate issues in the labelling and traceability of products.”

If seafood was bought from local fishmongers, reputable food outlets or supermarkets, it was more than likely to be labelled correctly due to the high standards they abide to, Williams added.

Mariani is currently working on six further University of Salford studies into fish mislabelling that will look at skate and ray, cod, swordfish, hake, tuna and monkfish in the UK and other countries. They will be published over the coming months. 

The UCD report was published in the scientific journal, Fish and Fisheries (2012, ed.13 p345-358). Scientists used a DNA barcoding technique to identify the fish and compared the results against product labels.