Fish and seafood can be a delicious part of a well-balanced diet, providing healthy fats, protein and nutrients like vitamin D. But did you know mislabelling or substituting fish species is a type of food fraud?

If an expensive species is replaced with a cheaper fish without telling retailers or the public, it deceives consumers. It can also damage the reputation and hurt honest businesses that deliver fish and seafood products to the marketplace.

So, what is happening to tackle this issue?

One approach is sampling food products considered high-risk, such as fish, and testing them for authenticity.

For example, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) collects fish samples from across the country and tests their DNA to make sure they aren’t mislabelled.

They focus on nine fish species that are common targets for substitution: butterfish, cod, halibut, kingfish, sea bass, snapper (red and other), sole, tuna and yellowtail.

Scientists compare the DNA from the samples against the DNA barcode sequences for known fish species.

Recent results found that almost 93 per cent of fish were accurately labelled for their species. The mislabelled products were removed from the marketplace. So, overall, the fish and seafood we purchase in Canada are what they claim to be.

If you ever think a food is mislabelled, you can tell the retailer or report it to the CFIA.