A scientific survey estimates between a quarter and a third of fish products being sold in Europe are mislabelled. Following the European scandal of horsemeat sold as beef, fish samples tested at the Eurofins laboratory in Hamburg showed cheaper fish being used in place of more expensive varieties and then falsely labelled, and some have said suppliers are looking for ways to cut costs. Joanna Partridge reports
When is cod not cod? When it's pollock, or haddock, or another white fish. A survey has suggested between a quarter and a third of fish being sold in Europe is being mislabelled. Julian Pryke owns The Fishmonger in Greenwich. SOUNDBITE: Julian Pryke, Owner of The Fishmonger, saying (English): "Cod and haddock here, it's very hard to tell the difference, even to someone that works with fish. That is until you turn the fish over and they become easily identifiable. This is a cod, it has a nice green colour to the skin, and this is a haddock which is dark grey with a black stripe down. But if this had been skinned and battered or deep fried then I think most people would struggle to tell the difference." Fish samples tested at the Eurofins laboratory in Germany showed cheaper fish was being substituted for more expensive varieties, and then described wrongly on the packaging. Europe is still reeling from the scandal of horsemeat sold as beef. Ironically that may have led to shoppers buying more fish. SOUNDBITE: Anna Sixsmith, Shopper, saying (English): "I like to know what I'm buying." SOUNDBITE: John Holden, Shopper, saying (English): "We've got to preserve our fish stocks because I like fish." Mislabelling isn't just a European problem - an American study showed 25% of fish sold in New York restaurants wasn't what it was described as on the menu. Kimberly Warner authored the report into fish fraud, and says there are economic and health concerns. SOUNDBITE: KIimberly Warner, Report author and senior scientist at Oceana, saying (English): "If you're paying a lot of money for a wild fish and you're getting a farmed fish as a substitute, you're being ripped off so many consumers are concerned from that end. There are potential health concerns as well. When you're eating something called "white tuna" but what you're really getting is a snake mackerel called escolar that can cause severe digestive effects." Fish suppliers are facing the double challenge of rising prices and shrinking fishing quotas, and could falsely label products to cut costs. SOUNDBITE: Julian Pryke, Owner of The Fishmonger, saying (English): "Cod's become more and more expensive, it's no longer a cheap fish, so if people can find a cheaper alternative, they will. In my experience, if you tell people what a fish is, they'll make an educated decision. There's no need to hide things, people aren't frightened of trying new things, they just need to be told what it is." Those found guilty of mislabelling could face fines or imprisonment. For consumers to be certain what they're buying, they should shop somewhere they trust.