Sushi barcoding in the UK: another kettle of fish
Di Muri, C
Copyright: 2016 Vandamme et al. Open Acces article. Distributed under Creative Commons CC-BY 4.0
Although the spread of sushi restaurants in the European Union and United States is a relatively new phenomenon, they have rapidly become among the most popular food services globally. Recent studies indicate that they can be associated with very high levels (>70%) of fish species substitution. Based on indications that the European seafood retail sector may currently be under better control than its North American counterpart, here we investigated levels of seafood labelling accuracy in sushi bars and restaurants across England. We used the COI barcoding gene to screen samples of tuna, eel, and a variety of other products characterised by less visually distinctive ‘white flesh’. Moderate levels of substitution were found (10%), significantly lower than observed in North America, which lends support to the argument that public awareness, policy and governance of seafood labels is more effective in the European Union. Nevertheless, the results highlight that current labelling practice in UK restaurants lags behind the level of detail implemented in the retail sector, which hinders consumer choice, with potentially damaging economic, health and environmental consequences. Specifically, critically endangered species of tuna and eel continue to be sold without adequate information to consumers.
This work was funded by the European Union INTERREG Atlantic Area Program (‘LabelFish’, project 2011-1/163). The UK Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) grant FA0116, the University of Bristol and the University of Salford. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.
The following grant information was disclosed by the authors: European Union INTERREG Atlantic Area Program: 2011-1/163. UK Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA): FA0116. University of Bristol. University of Salford.
This is the final version of the article. Available from the publisher via the DOI in this record.
Vol. 4, e1891: DOI 10.7717/peerj.1891