The evolution of mislabelling within the EU: the case of the high value fish species Gadus morhua and Gadus macrocephalus

Frederik Feldmann

As mislabeling is still common practice worldwide and frequently reported in the EU, it also continues to have serious conservational implications on the substitute species. Since seafood is often sold processed, it makes it hard for consumers to identify. Cod, as one of the most substituted species in the world is also one of the most consumed in the EU. The prices have been increasing since the fishing quotes were reduced about 50%. Therefore, this study was conducted to find out the implications of this on mislabeling. Samples were taken in the Netherlands and Germany and the barcoding method was applied to search for substitute species. Additional data was obtained from literature to assess the evolution of mislabeled cod in the EU. None of the samples appeared to be mislabeled and a positive trend on reduced mislabling was assessed; the proportion of mislabeling has been reduced over the last decade. However, this has negative effects on the conservation of the substitute species, since some of them are listed as vulnerable, endangered or critically endangered. Therefore, routine standard controls are recommended on different selling points since recent mislabeling seem to be higher in retail and restaurants.