Out of 45 samples of fish labelled cod or haddock bought from random fish and chip shops in Birmingham, Glasgow and Manchester, one in six (16%) were mislabelled. Some of the samples had been substituted for cheaper fish, said Which?
In Glasgow, five of the 15 samples of haddock tested were found to be whiting, which is similar to haddock but usually cheaper. Two of the 15 samples of cod tested in Manchester were found to be haddock. The sampling formed part of the Which? Stop Food Fraud campaign.
The results come just five months after Which? tested lamb takeaways and found 40% had been contaminated with other meats, and some contained no lamb at all.
‘Fish fraud very common’
“It has been known for quite some time fish fraud is very common and species substitution is always high on the list of causes,” said Chris Elliott, professor of food safety and director of the Institute for Global Food Security at Queen’s University Belfast and author of the Elliott Review following the horsemeat scandal.
“It has been known for quite some time fish fraud is very common and species substitution is always high on the list of causes. It is clear the catering industry in the UK has a long way to go to ensure that consumers get what they are paying for.
“They must work to ensure that such fraud is prevented by tightening their audits and testing regime, two of the key pillars of food integrity I referred to in my report to government.”
‘People are being misled’
Which? executive director, Richard Lloyd, said: “It’s unacceptable that people are being misled and that the food they have ordered is not what they’re told it is.
“Consumers need to feel confident in the food they buy so it’s good that the government has committed to implementing the findings of the recent Elliott Review.
“It’s in the interests of responsible food businesses, as well as consumers, to make sure there are effective controls in place and a zero tolerance approach to food crime.”
The latest Which? survey found half (49%) of consumers who buy takeaways said they aren’t confident that the food they bought correctly described and contained the ingredients stated.
Which? wants the government to quickly implement all of the recommendations from the Elliott Review including setting up a new food crime unit within the Food Standards Agency, ensuring a more co-ordinated approach to food testing and industry checks are improved.