Available information indicates that white fish not meeting current legal requirements for identification of species may be present in the EU market. In order to better assess the prevalence of such non-compliances the European Commission organised a control plan coordinated at European Union level.
Assess the prevalence on the market of white fish mislabelled with regard to its declared species in unprocessed and processed products. In the context of this coordinated control plan "white fish" was defined as demersal species living in both marine and freshwater environments, including round fish which are benthopelagic species and flat fish which are benthic species.
Article 53 of Regulation (EC) No 882/2004 on official controls (OCR) gives the Commission the mandate to recommend coordinated plans where considered necessary, on an ad-hoc basis, to assess the prevalence of hazards in feed, food or animals.
Regulation (EU) No 1169/2011 on Food Information to Consumers (FIC) and Regulation (EU) No 1379/2013 on the Common Market Organisation of fishery and aquaculture products (CMO) represent the detailed legislation on identification and labelling of fishery and aquaculture products.
Details of the coordinated control plan
The coordinated control plan was detailed in Recommendation C(2015) 1558 final of 12 March 2015 to the Member States. To avoid informing on all details of the controls before they were to be performed the Recommendation was not published.
During official controls, 27 Member States and 2 EFTA Member States collected 3906 samples of fish of predominantly white fish species. The samples were taken at different stages of the food chain and represented a broad range of products and over 150 white fish species.
Samples were collected from 1 June until 15 July 2015.
The samples were submitted to one or more of the following tests:
- IEF (Isoelectric focusing method, e.g. AOAC Official Method 980.16 using the relevant IEF database)
- PCR-RFLP (Polymerase chain reaction coupled with restriction fragment length polymorphism)
- DNA-barcoding (DNA-sequencing using a validated protocol)
- RT-PCR (Real-time polymerase chain reaction, uniplex or multiplex)