Restaurants plan DNA-certified premium seafood

Nov 27, 2011 By ROD McGUIRK , Associated Press

(AP) -- Restaurants around the world will soon use new DNA technology to assure patrons they are being served the genuine fish fillet or caviar they ordered, rather than inferior substitutes, an expert in genetic identification says.

In October, the U.S. officially approved so-called - a standardized fingerprint that can identify a species like a supermarket scanner reads a barcode - to prevent the mislabeling of both locally produced and imported seafood in the United States. Other national regulators around the world are also considering adopting DNA barcoding as a fast, reliable and cost-effective tool for identifying .

David Schindel, a Smithsonian Institution and executive secretary of the Washington-based Consortium for the Barcode of Life, said he has started discussions with the restaurant industry and seafood suppliers about utilizing the technology as a means of certifying the authenticity of delicacies.

"When they sell something that's really expensive, they want the consumer to believe that they're getting what they're paying for," Schindel told The Associated Press.

"We're going to start seeing a self-regulating movement by the high-end trade embracing barcoding as a mark of quality," he said.

While it would never be economically viable to DNA test every fish, it would be possible to test a sample of several fish from a trawler load, he said.

Schindel is organizer of the biennial International Barcode of Life Conference, which is being held Monday in the southern Australian city of Adelaide. The fourth in the conference series brings together 450 experts in the field to discuss new and increasingly diverse applications for the science.

Applications range from discovering what Australia's herd of 1 million feral feeds on in the Outback to uncovering fraud in Malaysia's herbal drug industry.

Schindel leads a consortium of scientists from almost 50 nations in overseeing the compilation of a global reference library for the Earth's 1.8 million known species.

The Barcode of Life Database so far includes more than 167,000 species.

Mislabeling is widespread in the seafood industry and usually involves cheaper types of fish being sold as more expensive varieties. A pair of New York high school students using DNA barcoding of food stocked in their own kitchens found in a 2009 study that caviar labeled as sturgeon was actually Mississippi paddlefish.

In a published study a year earlier, another pair of students from the high school found that one-fourth of fish samples they had collected around New York were incorrectly labeled as higher-priced fish.

Mislabeling of fish - which account for almost half the world's vertebrate species - also poses risks to human health and the environment.

In 2007, several people became seriously ill from eating illegally imported toxic pufferfish from China that had been mislabeled as monkfish to circumvent U.S. import restrictions. Endangered species are also sold as more common varieties.

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User comments : 14

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dogbert
1 / 5 (2) Nov 27, 2011
Excellent. truth in labeling is important when you are eating that product.

I wish there were a test to determine whether seafood were wild caught or farmed.
Jotaf
1 / 5 (2) Nov 27, 2011
That's great, and I have nothing against this, but...

If you can't tell the difference between the "genuine" and something else... Why the hell do you care?
Callippo
1 / 5 (1) Nov 27, 2011
OK, the tuna will become engendered even faster...
dogbert
2.3 / 5 (3) Nov 27, 2011
If you can't tell the difference between the "genuine" and something else... Why the hell do you care?


You don't care that you bought a premium product but was served something else? It doesn't bother you to be duped?
Isaacsname
not rated yet Nov 27, 2011
OK, the tuna will become engendered even faster...


Whargarble ?
HealingMindN
1 / 5 (1) Nov 27, 2011
Who gives a tish whether they're serving me herring or halibut. What about labels for mercury and antibiotic levels?
Nerdyguy
1 / 5 (1) Nov 27, 2011
OK, the tuna will become engendered even faster...


I think you mean "endangered", but I've no idea how you could come to that conclusion. There's already a labeling system. This one is just more strict.
Jotaf
not rated yet Nov 27, 2011
Dogbert: The point is that this so-called Premium product is not all that premium, if it can be replaced with any cheap old thing and no one will notice.
dogbert
1 / 5 (3) Nov 27, 2011
Jotaf,
The point is that this so-called Premium product is not all that premium, if it can be replaced with any cheap old thing and no one will notice.


That may be your point, but it is not a very good point.

FrankHerbert
0.7 / 5 (51) Nov 27, 2011
Excellent. truth in labeling is important when you are eating that product.

I wish there were a test to determine whether seafood were wild caught or farmed.


Lol, so you support a government function?
Humpty
1 / 5 (2) Nov 27, 2011
Jesus eats fish - in low earth orbit.
dogbert
1 / 5 (2) Nov 27, 2011
Lol, so you support a government function?


I am not an anarchist. But the function of government as it relates to food seems to be to enable food suppliers to hide information from consumers
ryggesogn2
1 / 5 (2) Nov 27, 2011
How property rights protect fish:
http://www.perc.o...ibia.pdf

If you don't trust the food for sale, don't buy it.
FrankHerbert
0.7 / 5 (48) Nov 27, 2011
I'd honestly like to see dogbert and marjon (ryggesogn2) debate this issue. I bet lacking a common enemy it would culminate in marjon calling dogbert a socialist.