Oceana Canada, an ocean conservation advocacy group, has released a report investigating seafood fraud in Canada. DNA testing of seafood samples from retailers across Montreal revealed that Canada’s second largest city has one of the highest rates of mislabeling found in testing across Canada: 61% were either a substituted species or didn’t meet the labeling requirements set out by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA).

This testing contributes to Oceana Canada’s national, multi-year investigation—the most comprehensive study of seafood fraud and mislabeling at grocery stores and restaurants ever conducted in Canada. It has shown that almost half of 472 samples (47%) collected in six Canadian cities from 2017 to 2019 were mislabeled. In addition to Montreal, this includes testing in Victoria (67% mislabeled), Toronto (59% mislabeled), Ottawa (46% mislabeled), Halifax (38% mislabeled), and Vancouver (26% mislabeled).

“We have found farmed fish served up as wild caught, cheaper species substituted for more expensive ones, and fish banned in many countries because of health risks masquerading as another species, We’ve also uncovered rampant problems with Canada’s seafood traceability and labeling standards,” said Josh Laughren, executive director at Oceana Canada.

“If Canada’s traceability requirements continue to lag behind those of our major trading partners, our food safety reputation is at risk,” said Sayara Thurston, seafood fraud campaigner at Oceana Canada. “Oceana Canada is calling on the government to swiftly implement boat-to-plate traceability in line with global best practices.”

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