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Tuesday 12 December 2017

Takeaways accused of labelling cheaper fish as cod

Aideen Sheehan

TAKEAWAYS, fishmongers and restaurants are still being caught codding consumers by selling them fish that is not what it's claimed to be.

In what is the second survey to expose major seafood fraud, the Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) found 19pc of fish tested was not what it said on the label.

The FSAI carried out its investigation after a University College Dublin survey last year revealed large amounts of fish on sale were mislabelled.

The FSAI survey found fish and chip shops were the worst offenders with a third of them found to have mislabelled fish on sale.


Outlets were labelling cheaper pollock, hake, smelt and haddock as pricey cod, while three-quarters of smoked fish tested was found to be a different species than claimed.

FSAI Chief Executive Alan Reilly warned that food businesses were increasing profit margins by misleading consumers and, whether accidental or deliberate, mislabelling was contrary to the rights of consumers under EU and Irish law.

"Food businesses that fail to keep appropriate traceability records or who are found to be intentionally misleading consumers will face enforcement action where appropriate," Mr Reilly said.

"If a consumer wants to buy a piece of cod, it should be a piece of cod they are buying," he said.

The names of two suppliers had come up during traceability checks and this was being further investigated to see if mislabelling occurred at supply or retail level, the FSAI said.

Consumers did not need to be concerned about food safety where the wrong variety was sold, but it was important that consumers have confidence in the fish they were buying, particularly given the nutritional benefits, Mr Reilly said.

The FSAI genetically tested 111 samples of fish from shops, fishmongers, hotels, pubs, restaurants and takeaways around the country and found that 20 of these were mislabelled as cod and one was mislabelled as smoked haddock.

Some 32pc of takeaways tested had mislabelled fish, while three restaurants, two fishmongers and a butcher were also flogging cheaper substitutes.

However, this time around packaged fish and fish fingers were found to be the real thing.

The FSAI said it would follow this survey with routine testing of fish on sale, and an annual survey to monitor compliance.

They had issued verbal warnings to some of the premises and would follow up with further unannounced visits.

Second-generation fishmonger Peter Molloy of Molloy's in Donnybrook said it would be extremely difficult for fishmongers to pass off cod substitutes because it was easy to see the difference in raw fish in a shop -- rather than when encased in batter in a takeaway.

"I don't think I've ever got cod from a fish and chipper that was really cod and I'd know the difference," he said.

Derek Duggan, a Dublin regional manager at chip shop Leo Burdock's, said the company sold fresh cod, but no longer advertises 'smoked cod', only 'smoked fish'.

"Cod is getting more and more difficult to source and our smoked products are from the cod family," he said.

Irish Independent

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