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Old 02-25-2013, 10:16 AM
Franc Tireur Franc Tireur is offline
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Seafood fraud: what’s on your plate?

Unless you live under a rock, you must have heard about the “horse meat” lasagna discovery that has turned into an EU-wide food labeling crisis. When we, as consumers, go to a store or a restaurant, we expect to get what we pay for, and that I believe is a right that our governments and food providers owe us.

Unfortunately, the problem doesn’t end with ground “beef,” and actually extends to seafood. Our colleagues in North America today unveiled a report uncovering widespread seafood fraud across the United States. In one of the largest seafood fraud investigations in the world to date, DNA testing confirmed that 33% of the 1,215 fish samples collected by Oceana from 674 retail outlets in the US were mislabeled, with the percentage going as high as 52% in California.

Dr. Kimberly Warner, report author and senior scientist at Oceana described the findings: “Some of the fish substitutions we found are just disturbing. Apart from being cheated, many consumers are being denied the right to choose fish wisely based on health or conservations concerns.”

So, what does this have to do with Europe you may ask?

Well, everything.

True, a study of this scale hasn’t been conducted across the EU, but evidence has already emerged in several European countries to suggest widespread seafood mislabeling. In 2011, a study revealed that 28% of cod products in Ireland were mislabeled and found to be either a less sustainable species of cod, or less expensive fish species including whiting, pollock, and saithe. In Mediterranean countries, including Spain, Italy and Malta, when customers order swordfish, they may actually be getting blue shark, which is similar in taste and appearance, but much cheaper.

There is still much to be done to make sure the food we purchase to feed ourselves and our families is the same thing we put on our grocery lists. Public awareness is critical. Since the news broke about the horsemeat scandal, it has become an issue that the EU cannot ignore, and hopefully our colleagues in the US have made widespread seafood fraud an issue that the US government can no longer ignore.


Oh great! After the horse instead of beef, now it is the seafood turn...

Last edited by Franc Tireur; 02-25-2013 at 10:22 AM.
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Old 02-25-2013, 02:22 PM
clearview clearview is offline
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It was meatballs that the horse meat was found in.

either way this news is terrifying to think that we have no idea what we are ingesting.

pretty gross!
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Old 02-25-2013, 03:37 PM
Franc Tireur Franc Tireur is offline
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Originally Posted by clearview View Post
It was meatballs that the horse meat was found in!
It was more than Horse meat found in Ikea's Swedish meat balls. The horse meat was found in Sauces, Danish Pizzas, Nestlé products, all the frozen meals from a few major brands, etc.

Let's see what they have discovered so far

Where's the beef? Horse meat scam taints European food industries

Not since an outbreak of mad cow disease a dozen years ago have Europe’s food industries been embroiled in a crisis the likes of this past month’s discovery of horse meat masquerading as beef in prepared-food entrees sold across the continent.

The controversy over mislabeled meat in millions of frozen dinners, pastas, stews, goulashes and chilis took a turn for the worse this week when Nestle, the world’s largest food company, found horse DNA in some of its products. And testing of meals yanked from store shelves and freezers in Britain and Germany has turned up traces of phenylbutazone, commonly known as bute, a powerful equine painkiller deemed harmful to humans.

The scandal erupted last month when Irish food safety authorities found horse meat in frozen burgers labeled as pure beef. It has since spread to 13 other countries and forced authorities to recall billions of dollars' worth of products for testing and disposal.

“Burgergate” has also highlighted the labyrinthine route that food travels from farm to table. Horse meat from a Romanian slaughterhouse was accurately labeled when it was exported to French meat processor Spanghero through a Cypriot middleman, but it acquired the beef label before being sent to a Luxembourg subsidiary that produced frozen dinners for supermarkets in Britain, Spain, Germany and Scandinavia.

In the case of Swiss-based Nestle, mislabeled Buitoni-brand pasta products have so far been found in Spain, Italy and France.

The still-unfolding scandal has spotlighted failures in the European Union food regulation network, as one of the benefits for the 27 members of the trading bloc has been unfettered access for each nation’s goods to the others’ markets. No cross-border inspections are required of imports, and even precautions undertaken after the mad cow frenzy of 2001, such as mandated documentation of each cow’s care, feeding and transport, have proved insufficient because the practice isn’t extended to horses.

After bute was discovered in horse meat slaughtered in Britain, the Federation of Veterinarians of Europe reiterated its proposal that horse owners be required to maintain detailed records of their animals’ drug treatment. Horses raised to race or pull plows and wagons are often treated with anti-inflammatory medicines like bute, which are supposed to exclude them from the food supply.

In a statement on its website, the federation warned that the lack of a centralized registry for horse veterinary records left the oversight system open to manipulation by unscrupulous traders who can obtain duplicate “passports” clean of any reference to prohibited drugs. The BBC reported this week that more than 7,000 fake medical records on horses were known to be circulating in Britain alone.

The substitution of horse meat, which typically sells for a third or less the cost of beef, was more a problem for European food processors’ reputations than a health scare until the discovery of bute in the mislabeled meat. Those perpetrating the deception could now be criminally liable.

“It’s more a case of fraud, but that’s what all these food problems start out as: someone trying to make money by pushing a product not up to standards,” said Barry Bosworth, an economist with the Brookings Institution.

Bosworth predicted that the food businesses involved in the substitution scam “will get clobbered in the short run,” which could further deepen the economic pain gripping a region suffering nearly 12% unemployment and a strangling debt crisis. But as with previous food scandals, the furor will soon die down, he said, recalling the uproar in recent years over mechanically separated meat, dubbed “pink slime,” that has abated although the stuff continues to be used broadly in fast food and mass-produced ingredients.

Some good usually comes from headline-grabbing scandals, Bosworth added. Food regulations were improved in the United States and Europe after the 2001 mad cow outbreak, when at least 80 people died from the human form of the disease, 180,000 head of cattle were found to be infected and millions of older cows were slaughtered to curb its spread.
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Old 02-25-2013, 03:46 PM
Franc Tireur Franc Tireur is offline
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Seafood Fraud: Overview

Seafood is a popular food in the United States, yet consumers are routinely given little or no information about the seafood they eat.

Plus, the information provided is frequently misleading or fraudulent: recent studies have found that seafood may be mislabeled as often as 25 to 70 percent of the time for fish like red snapper, wild salmon, and Atlantic cod, disguising species that are less desirable, cheaper or more readily available.

A 2009 report by the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) on seafood fraud exposed the current inadequacies in the detection and prevention of seafood fraud by federal agencies.

Seafood fraud can happen at each step of the supply chain – the restaurant, the distributor, or the processing and packaging phase. Along with ripping off consumers, the consequences of seafood fraud include:

•Seafood fraud can directly threaten human health. Swapping one fish species for another that may be riddled with contaminants, toxins or allergens can make people sick.

•Seafood fraud creates a market for illegal fishing by making it easy to launder illegally caught seafood products through the U.S. market. This undermines conservation efforts to prevent overfishing and accidental capture of at-risk species and hurts honest fishermen.

•Mislabeling fish makes it difficult for consumers to make eco-friendly choices. Market-driven conservation efforts depend on the consumer’s ability to make an informed purchase of particular species. This effort becomes nearly impossible when fish are mislabeled.

•Seafood fraud misleads consumers about the true availability of seafood and the state of the marine environment. Because mislabeling maintains the appearance of a steady supply of popular fish species despite severe overfishing, the general public is unaware that the species is in serious trouble.

DNA testing is now confirming anecdotal reports that seafood fraud is disturbingly widespread. Both scientists and amateur seafood sleuths have exposed seafood fraud across North America and Europe.

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