Q&A to EU Commission – Seafood labelling frauds

Question for written answer
to the Commission 
Rule 117
Gilles Pargneaux (S&D) (17 th March 2014)

Traceability in the fish industry in France has been tested by the BLOOM and Oceana organisations, by researchers from Inserm (the National Institute of Health and Medical Research) and the National Natural History Museum and by Terra Ecomagazine.

These organisations joined forces in France to conduct a unique investigation into labelling fraud in relation to fish. Over the course of a year, ten regions were sampled and nearly 400 samples were collected from the refrigerated aisles of supermarkets, fishmongers, restaurants, ready meals and frozen foods.

The study showed that species substitution remains rare in France, with fraud at a level of 3.5%.

The results of this inquiry can be compared to similar studies carried out in various European Union countries.

In some countries, the level of labelling fraud is very high: 32% fraud in Italy, 30% of hake alone in Spain, 19% of cod in Ireland.

Can the Commission state whether it will soon draw up a European strategy to combat labelling fraud in the seafood sector?


Answer given by Mr Borg on behalf of the Commission (20th May 2014)

The Commission is aware of the study mentioned by the Honourable Member. More generally it closely monitors the works undertaken within or outside the EU aiming to assess the magnitude of fish species substitution.

The available results lead to conclude that discrepancies between the real species and the information conveyed to the consumer occur to different extents according to the species, the countries and the place of the food chain. However they are sometimes detected in significant proportion.

Following the horse meat scandal the Commission has decided to undertake actions to strengthen the ability of the EU control system as a whole to detect and counter food fraud. A key objective is to improve the capabilities of the Member States which are responsible for carrying controls to verify that food products placed on the market comply with the relevant national and EU rules. It is also considered critical to facilitate administrative assistance and cooperation among national enforcers in the case of cross border violations.

In the particular case of mislabelling of fish species, the Commission is currently investigating the detection methods available in the context of official controls before deciding for any further action, for instance in the form of coordinated control plans in accordance with Article 53 of Regulation (EC) No 882/2004.

(Source: European Parliament)


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