Fish substitution (2015)

Fish substitution (2015)

In 2015, the European Commission organised a control plan coordinated at European Union level to assess the prevalence on the market of white fish mislabelled with regard to its declared species. The plan was part of the Commission follow-up of the horse meat crisis in 2013, where systematic checks to assess the extent of possible fraudulent activity in a certain sector, was one of the actions. Fishery and aquaculture products were identified by the Commission and the EU countries' experts as a possible high risk commodity for species substitution.

The plan was agreed with the EU countries in February 2015 and the sampling took place during June and July of this year. All the sampling and analysis was performed in the EU countries using, to the extent possible, a network of local laboratories.

This is the first EU (+EFTA) wide coordinated testing programme on fish species substitution and the EU countries sampled in total 3906 samples from over 150 different white fish species from all stages of the food chain. This represents a very broad species target group in comparison to other studies of this kind.

The declared species was confirmed in 94% of the samples taken. The overall non-compliance is lower than the levels of non-compliance in white fish in many of the other more limited testing programmes in the EU countries, although for certain species the levels are still quite high.

The aggregated results can only give us an idea of the situation concerning mislabelled white fish on the EU market. Based on the information gathered in this plan it is not possible to give any estimate of how many cases of intentional violations perpetrated with the purpose of financial gain this represents, as opposed to just bad or ill-informed practices.

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Details of the coordinated control plan