Seafood labels in Canada vague compared to U.S., Europeans:environmental groups

Report card says seafood labels too vague

HALIFAX — Environmental groups are giving Canada’s seafood labelling requirements an F grade due to their lack of details compared to American and European packaging standards.

The report card released Thursday said Canada has the vaguest labelling descriptions of fish products of the three jurisdictions. It said that is increasing the risk of misrepresentation of what’s being sold.

Colleen Turlo, a spokeswoman from the Halifax-based Ecology Action Centre and co-author of the study, says basics like the species’ scientific name, along with how and where the fish was caught and processed should be on the labels.

“Inadequate seafood labelling means consumers don’t have adequate health and environmental information about the product,” said Turlo in a telephone interview.

The report, by a coalition of environmental groups called SeaChoice, says some seafood sellers and retailers are voluntarily labelling seafood more comprehensively, but the lack of uniform regulatory requirements means that only some consumers have the information they need.

Turlo argues that Canada should at least match American and European standards.

“It’s that first step to ensuring that as a product travels through the supply chain … information about that product isn’t changed along the way,” she said.

She says in Canada it’s possible that consumers won’t have any idea, based on the label, what country the fish actually comes from and whether it was farmed or wild.

“Those are some pieces of information that can help narrow down whether something is overfished and whether the region has strong fisheries management,” she says.

The report says European Union nation labels include the common name, the scientific name, the harvest method, the geographic origin of the fish and the country where the fish was last processed, while in the United States labels include the common name of the fish, the production method and the country where it was processed.

“It’s shocking that our products from Canada are being sold with more detail in the United States and the European Union than they are in Canada,” said Turlo.

The study says improvements in labelling requirements in other jurisdictions have been driven by the results of genetic testing of seafood that exposed extensive fraud, where seafood labelled as one species turns out to be an entirely different kind of fish.

While there are certification programs that collect information from participating Canadian companies and provide a label indicating the species is harvested sustainably, Turlo said national standards are needed.

“They’re collecting information and data that we feel the Canadian government should be collecting anyway … Consumers should be able to see this without having to rely on a third-party certification,” said Turlo.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency has authority over food labelling and says on its website that labels should provide a common name, the quantity, the best before date and the name and address of the manufacturer, dealer or importer “and in some cases, grade/quality and country of origin.”

The agency did not immediately comment on the study’s proposals.



Michael Tutton, The Canadian Press

Canadian Press

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Comments are closed

Just Posted

Two rescued from tipped sailboat near Casa Loma

The two men were quickly brought to shore by a marine rescue crew

New cherry packing facility to open near Ellison Lake this weekend

Despite a lacklustre cherry crop this year, Jealous Fruits is opening its new state-of-the-art packing facility

Petition calling for Kelowna Mountie to be fired, charged nears 350K signatures

Const. Lacey Browning was caught on camera dragging a UBCO student down a hall during a wellness check

PHOTOS: Looking back at Central Okanagan Canada Day celebrations of years past

While there may not be many festivities to look forward to for Canada Day 2020, previous celebrations have been a real treat

Long-range transportation planning around Central Okanagan offers challenges

Work from home has upended traditional traffic patterns

North Okanagan man gives back for Canada Day

Food packages given away to those living on the streets in Vernon

Dog rescued from rocky ledge in Summerland

Penticton Search and Rescue members perform high angle rescue

PHOTOS: Dual rallies take over Legislature lawn on Canada Day

Resist Canada 153 highlighted colonization and genocide, Unify the People called COVID a hoax

Gov. General honours Canadians for bravery, volunteer service

Five categories of winners presented on Canada Day

COVID-19: Should non-medical masks be mandatory in Canada?

New poll shows Canadians are divided on the rules around mandatory masks

Okanagan mine makes way for industrial project

Council holds a special meeting to rezone property

In photos and video: Colourful Canada Day parade rolls through Sicamous

Patriotic procession allows community to celebrate together while maintaining distance

Okanagan arsonist sentenced to 3 years probation

Arsonist must pay $500 to each party affected, no access to drugs, alcohol or fire starters

Northbound lane of Coquihalla closed after vehicle incident near Hope

A northbound lane is closed just north of the Great Bear Snowshed, according to DriveBC

Most Read