DNA tests have been used to check up on what fish and chip shops actually serve to their customers.

The Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) regularly carries out authentication testing to check takeaways are selling the fish they claim to be. A new report claims that fish and chip shops who do not hold an MSC certificate are five times more likely to be selling their customers a different species of fish to the one they are advertising.

The results of the organisation’s DNA tests found that more than 8 per cent of non-certified shops has wrongly labelled their fish, compared to 1.64 per cent of those with a certificate.

George Clark, MSC’s senior commercial manager for the UK, said: “British consumers are more savvy than ever when it comes to food provenance. They want to know exactly what is in their food and where it comes from – especially when they’re choosing fish specifically for its environmental credentials.

“The DNA results are clear, your Friday night takeaway is far more likely to be the fish you think you’ve bought if it’s MSC labelled. It’ll also be sustainable, responsibly caught and fully traceable.”

Fewer shops are selling mislabelled fish

The report’s findings suggests that fewer places are supplying the wrong kind of fish to their customers than in the past. An investigation carried out by Which? and the Institute of Global Food Security (IGFS) in 2014 found that one in six fish sold at British fish and chip shops were mislabelled.

It is also believed that the problem is worse in other countries with the global seafood mislabelling rate estimated at 30 per cent.

IGFS founder Professor Chris Elliott, founder of the IGFS, said: “It’s reassuring that the level of fish mislabelling in the UK is much lower than other reported regions in the world. However, the fact that the MSC certified shops performed so much better is a clear indication of the importance of the programme.

“Not only does it help assure customers of the sustainability of their fish but also that they are getting what they’ve paid for.”

Checking the exact nature of food is just one of the many uses of DNA testing. Testing is more commonly used to establish whether two people are biologically related to each other.

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