EU cafeteria fake fish labelling reported

2015-11-03 20:09
Picture: Getty Images

Picture: Getty Images

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Brussels - The European Union is looking into reports that cheap seafood is often mislabelled as choice fish in some of the Belgian capital's fine restaurants and even in EU cafeterias.

The Oceana environmental group said on Tuesday it found that 31.8% of seafood it tested in and around EU institutions in Brussels was a different fish than what was labelled on the menu. In the cafeterias of the EU, which sets fishery policies for the 28-nation bloc, the total amount of falsely labelled fish stood at 38 percent.

"We take this very seriously," EU spokesperson Alexander Winterstein said of the report.

Oceana said 95 percent of what was labelled Bluefin tuna - a fatty, sublime sushi favourite - was actually a less expensive species, served to make a hefty profit. In 13% of the cases, cod was also mislabelled and people sometimes were fed pangasius instead, a freshwater fish farmed in southeast Asia.

"Some restaurants with a good reputation are not better than others," said Oceana executive director Europe Lasse Gustavsson. "Obviously, it is a way to make more money."

The study did not assign blame or say whether the restaurants themselves were being unscrupulous or if they were being duped by some fish wholesalers.

A 2014 Oceana study of Danish fishmongers found that 18% of the cod sold there was not cod, but haddock or saithe. France stood out, however. When Oceana had a study there, only four percent of targeted species were mislabelled.

At EU headquarters, Gustavsson found some of the strangest mislabelling cases.

"This is almost hilarious," he said, "because this is not even for profit ... you are replacing cheap fish with an expensive one."

Winterstein said EU institutions are dependent on the labelling controls of Belgium, where EU headquarters is based.

Read more on:    eu  |  belgium  |  marine life

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