Tuna labels matter in Europe: Mislabelling rates in different tuna products

Tuna fisheries and processing represent economic activities of paramount importance around the world. Most of these products are traded for human consumption and in general are highly demanded commodities. However, not all tuna products achieve the same market price, some consumers are willing to pay a huge amount of money for certain species (i.e. Japanese market for Bluefin tuna) while other species are rather affordable (i.e. Skipjack tuna), therefore mislabelling has been observed frequently. We collected and analysed 545 tuna samples in six European countries, including fresh, frozen and canned products, and we have investigated whether or not these products were correctly labelled under European and national legislations. We found an overall mislabelling rate of 6.79%; in particular, 6.70% of the fresh and frozen tuna products and 7.84% of canned tuna were mislabelled, and only in the case of fresh and frozen tuna samples significant differences among countries were found. Mislabelling rates for Atlantic Bluefin tuna labelled products were very high, ranging from 50 up to 100%. In general, mislabelling was higher when specific names were included in the labels. The “tuna” umbrella term is a very popular one with consumers, but also one that remains vulnerable to ambiguity, hampering efforts towards market transparency and with potential negative consequences to the adequate management of tuna species stocks.

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S1 Table. Tuna samples collected in six European countries between 2012 and 2014.
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S2 Table. Commercial denominations of tuna in EU and six member states (ES, PT, UK, ROI, FR, GER).
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S3 Table. DNA analysis methods used in this study by the participant laboratories.
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S4 Table. Primers sequences and PCR protocols used in the study.
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S5 Table. Number of samples of fresh and frozen tuna analysed and mislabelling results split by type of label.
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S6 Table. Number of samples of canned tuna analysed and mislabelling results split by type of label.
1236 Ko
S7 Table. Species which appear as substitute in the mislabelled samples.
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S1 File. Tuna species identification ring trials.
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How to cite
Sotelo Carmen G., Velasco Amaya, Perez-Martin Ricardo, I, Kappel Kristina, Schroeder Ute, Verrez-Bagnis Veronique, Jerome Marc, Mendes Rogerio, Silva Helena, Mariani Stefano, Griffiths Andrew (2018). Tuna labels matter in Europe: Mislabelling rates in different tuna products. Plos One. 13 (5). e0196641 (12p.). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0196641, https://archimer.ifremer.fr/doc/00440/55137/

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