Fishy Business

April 27, 2016

Economically motivated adulteration or “food fraud” is the intentional alteration of food products for economic gain. In fish, this often involves substituting a cheaper species of fish for a more expensive species or intentionally mislabeling the production method used (i.e wild caught versus farm raised).  A recent study of restaurants and grocery stores in Minnesota demonstrated an overall identification accuracy rate for halibut as 86.4%, for tuna as 82.6% for salmon as 92.7% and walleye as 98.2%. There was a difference in identification accuracy as described in the table below:

 

Walleye

Halibut

Tuna

Salmon

Restaurants

98.7%

83.3%

80.4%

71.4%

Grocery Stores

96.4%

88.4%

86.1%

100%

Overall accuracy

98.2%

86.4%

82.6%

92.7%

 

The University of Minnesota Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory uses a test that compares the genetic information (DNA) of fish to known genetic information. This can differentiate species of fish and help to determine if food fraud has occurred.  

 Link to Fish Species ID test at UMN VDL