Food fraud in the fishery sector is a recurring issue worldwide. Since seafood is one of the most globally traded food commodities and the supply chains are often quite complex, it tends to be highly vulnerable to substitution and mislabelling.
The most recent studies and published records of food fraud incidents show a large number of fish and seafood products being mislabelled. In some cases, fish are labelled as different species from the same family. Other cases reveal species substitution with an endangered or vulnerable species. In addition to promoting unfair trade, misleading consumers and threatening efforts towards sustainability, a variety of public health risks have also been raised as a consequence.
For example, a study of fish species in Taiwan has demonstrated that the mislabelling of snapper as tilapia (for sashimi products) raises potential health concerns after microbiome profiling was performed. Seafood products are not always deliberately mislabelled. However, the huge majority of substitutions involve replacing higher-cost species with lower-cost species. This clearly indicates food fraud at play, rather than negligence.