MSC leads the way against mislabelling and fraud

Published on March 27, 2019

A new study “DNA barcoding validates species labelling of certified seafood” shows that less than 1% of Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certified seafood products are incorrectly labelled against a global industry average of 30%.

The research highlights the strength of traceability with the supply chain and that “MSC certification requires every distributor, processor, and retailer trading certified seafood to have a documented trace-back system”

Genetic identification and DNA barcodes were used to see how effective this system has been in reducing the incidence of species mislabelling. Tests were conducted on over 1400 certified seafood products derived from 27 species across 18 countries, in order to provide these findings.

In a press release the lead author and working for MSC, Jacob Barendse, stated that “there is great concern about shortcomings in the supply chain with regard to seafood and that deliberate mislabelling and fraud is ongoing. This has meant that some of the most in demand species, such as cod, have been replaced by farmed pangasius. This can undermine consumer confidence and efforts to maintain sustainable fishing.”

The authors concluded that “combining regular DNA testing with documentary trace-backs across the full supply chain, as part of MSC’s chain of custody certification program, is an effective deterrent for systematic and deliberate species substitution and fraud”.