Cod is the common name for genus Gadus, belonging to the family Gadidae, and is also used in the common name for various other fishes. Cod is a popular food with a mild flavor, low fat content and a dense, flaky white flesh. Cod livers are processed to make cod liver oil, an important source of vitamin A, vitamin D, vitamin E and omega-3 fatty acids (EPA and DHA). The northeast Arctic cod, which is traditionally fished when approaching the coast during spawning, are sometimes called skrei. Young Atlantic cod or haddock prepared in strips for cooking is called scrod.
The Atlantic cod, which can change color at certain water depths, has two distinct color phases: gray-green and reddish brown. Its average weight is 5–12 kilograms (11–26 lb), but specimens weighing up to 100 kilograms (220 lb) have been recorded. Cod feed on molluscs, crabs, starfish, worms, squid, and small fish. Some migrate to warm water in winter to spawn. A large female lays up to five million eggs in mid ocean, a very small number of which survive. Pacific or saltwater cod are also found around the coast of British Columbia, Canada and the northwestern US coastal areas. These fish are three times the size of their eastern counterparts and are darker in color.
Cod meat is moist and flaky when cooked and is white in color. In the United Kingdom, Atlantic cod is one of the most common ingredients in fish and chips, along with haddock and plaice. It is also frequently consumed in Portugal and Spain.
Cod are currently at risk from overfishing in the UK, Canada and most other Atlantic countries.