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April 10, 2019

I’ve been eating what?!

Sophie Hunter-James
Director – SFS Trace

Hi there! My name’s Sophie and I recently joined the team at Seafood Souq as Market Research Manager. As a newcomer to the seafood industry (but a keen seafood consumer) my first two weeks were spent deep diving (pardon the pun) into researching all things aquaculture and I was honestly shocked.

As an avid seafood consumer I had NO idea until now that

1 in every 5 samples of seafood tested worldwide is mislabelled (Oceana Deceptive Dishes report)

These findings made me reminiscent of the 2013 horse-meat scandal in the UK. One of the few businesses to profit out of this scandal were high end supermarket chain Marks and Spencers, why? Because of their “good reputation for high quality and provenance”* something the Seafood Industry is now calling out for.

Mislabelling can happen for a number of reasons throughout the supply chain;

  • Substitution of a product of lesser value
  • Misidentification of fish during processing
  • Misidentification of fish during packaging from distribution centers
  • Lack of traceability throughout the supply chain

From a consumer perspective after learning the magnitude of this issue and how it has inevitably personally affected me given the high statistics of mislabelled seafood, I felt cheated. Not only because I (and others along the supply chain) are often paying for a premium product that we are probably not receiving, but the actual product I’m receiving is more often than not actually damaging for my health. More than half (58 percent) of the samples substituted for other seafood were a species that pose a health risk to consumers.* I’ve been unknowingly eating fish that could make me sick?! Oceana fraud study found that 84% of the white tuna samples were actually escolar affectionately named ‘laxative of the sea’, yep that’s right, a species that can cause serious digestive issues for some individuals who eat more than a few ounces. Wow!

Learning about the vastness of this issue made me even more excited to be a part of the creation of an e-commerce platform that eliminates any opportunity of mislabelling or seafood fraud by implementing a fully traceable supply chain. The fully transparent marketplace being created at Seafood Souq connects buyers and sellers direct, removing all the unnecessary steps along the supply chain where errors can occur.

Not only is this fantastic for consumers like myself who want to know what they are really eating, but it is also promoting sustainability by protecting endangered fish being caught and sold for consumption. In one study almost half of the substituted fish were species that are considered threatened with extinction by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN)*. This is also great news for restaurants who care about the quality of their products, not only am I sure they don’t want to make their customers sick, but Seafood Souq allows you to see the origin of the product with a transparent price that reflects the correct species and provides a fully trackable journey from sea to serving. This also allows suppliers to know that the fish they sell is the fish that will be served, their brand will be represented as it should be. All in all this is great news for Seafood Consumers like myself, Seafood Buyers and Seafood Sellers.

Here’s to revolutionizing an industry…..and no more eating laxatives of the sea!





Sophie Hunter-James
Director – SFS Trace

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