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New report emerges detailing seafood mislabeling in Canada

A new study in Vancouver, British Columbia, has found high levels of seafood mislabeling, backing up an Oceana Canada conducted last year that came to a similar conclusion.

After testing 300 samples of fresh seafood from sushi restaurants and grocery stores in metro Vancouver via DNA barcoding, University of British Columbia researchers found widespread mislabeling.

Similarly, last November, Oceana Canada found that 45 of 98 seafood samples from sushi restaurants and grocery stores in Ottawa were mislabeled. Oceana Canada said that the most commonly mislabeled fish was red snapper, followed by salmon, halibut, snapper, white tuna, and cod.

While he did not release the mislabeling rate for all species, Dr. Xiaonan Lu, associate professor of food science at UBC, said that the most commonly mislabeled fish was red snapper.

"The mislabeling rate is 100 percent ... for example, they're actually tilapia or rockfish ... but they're labelled as red snapper," Lu told the On The Coast radio show.

The reason mislabeling is common in the seafood industry is that the “whole seafood supply chain is very complicated and it's not very transparent. So, when you harvest the fish, there will be a lot of different steps for the processing and this fish product may cross several different national borders," Lu told On the Coast.

Mackerel and tuna were the least likely to be mislabeled, Lu said.

Lu told SeafoodSource he was not immediately available for an interview, and that his findings have not yet been published.

Lu’s team is developing a spectrometer that will produce faster DNA barcoding results, since, he said, the current DNA barcoding method can take up to a few days to obtain results.

"We're still trying to reduce the size of the device so the consumer can carry it to the grocery store and do the testing by themselves," Lu told On the Coast.