Oceana Canada reports 61% of Montreal seafood samples mislabelled, 46% in Ottawa
OTTAWA — Activists with Oceana Canada are calling on the Canadian Food Inspection Agency to implement “full boat-to-plate traceability” after DNA testing allegedly showed “widespread” mislabelling of seafood sold in Canada’s major cities. That’s based on 472 retail samples the charitable organization says it recently procured in six cities and tested for actual content.
Oceana Canada says the product did not match the label in almost half of all cases — with an overall failure rate of 46 percent.
Montreal was the worst offender in eastern Canada, according to the group’s recent investigation — released Oct. 16 — where 61 percent of samples were either a substituted species or didn’t meet the CFIA’s labelling requirements. And in Ottawa, it says, 46 percent of seafood samples were mislabelled. Testing also took place in Victoria (67% mislabelled), Toronto (59% mislabelled), Halifax (38% mislabelled) and Vancouver (26% mislabelled), according to the group.
“Canada lags far behind our largest trading partners in providing Canadian consumers with comprehensive and accurate labelling information about where their seafood is coming from,” said Sayara Thurston, seafood fraud campaigner at Oceana Canada, which is petitioning the CFIA for change. “Seafood follows a complex and obscure path, often crossing many national borders before it reaches our plate. There is a risk of fraud and mislabelling at each step along the way.
“If Canada’s traceability requirements continue to lag behind those of our major trading partners, our food safety reputation is at risk,” says Thurston. “Oceana Canada is calling on the government to swiftly implement boat-to-plate traceability in line with global best practices.”
Oceana Canada was established as an independent charity in 2015 and is part of the largest international advocacy group dedicated solely to ocean conservation. The organization says it has successfully campaigned to end the shark fin trade, make rebuilding depleted fish populations the law, improve the way fisheries are managed and protect marine habitat.