The Federal Office investigated food fraud in the fish trade
Fish and seafood are not only popular, common nutritional recommendations also recommend incorporating fish into your diet once or twice a week, among other things because it is a valuable source of omega-3 fatty acids. However, a recent investigation revealed that it is not uncommon for fraud to occur when selling fish and seafood.
Experts from the Federal Office of Consumer Protection and Food Safety (BVL) used 443 samples to examine how often and in what way fraud occurs when selling fish. In 16 percent of the samples, the working group found abnormalities that indicate fraudulent practices.
Fish is mostly imported
Around 1.2 million tonnes of fish and seafood were consumed in this country in 2020. 89 percent of this quantity was imported goods. The products sometimes reach Central Europe via extensive trade routes.
Fish vulnerable to fraudulent practices
Due to the wide range of products on offer, it is difficult to trace all production chains in detail, which makes fish products vulnerable to fraudulent practices.
Common scams used by fish scammers
According to the BVL, fraud occurs, for example, by offering cheap fish species as more expensive species. On the one hand, profits can be increased and, on the other hand, illegal fishing can be concealed.
Especially with frozen fish, it is a common practice to add water to the products in order to increase the weight and thus the price of the products. Water-binding food additives are sometimes added to the water introduced.
443 fish samples examined for fraud
As part of Operation OPSON
The samples were examined for illegal foreign water additives, unauthorized or undeclared additives and incorrect species information. The majority of the samples were frozen products. Here are the results of the investigation:
- Evidence of foreign water addition was discovered in 40 of 298 samples (13 percent).
- Undeclared additives were detected in 10 of 218 samples (5 percent).
- In 13 of 232 samples (6 percent) there were discrepancies in the specified animal species.
- 20 samples were objected to due to misleading information.
- Overall, there were abnormalities in 16 percent of the samples that indicate fraud.
Samples were taken along the entire supply chain
As the Federal Office of Consumer Protection and Food Safety reports, the samples were taken along the entire supply chain, but predominantly from wholesale and retail. (vb)