Independent DNA tests on 240 random samples have shown that MSC certified fish continues to perform well in traceability tests. All of the samples showed that they came from the fish labelled on the pack and none of the products was mislabelled. These early results establish DNA analysis as a valuable tool in combating the fraudulent use of ecolabels. As a result, the MSC plans to expand the testing of species later this year.
The first DNA tests were developed for three species: Alaska salmon (Oncorhynchus sp.), Alaska pollock (Theragra chalcogramma) and South Georgia toothfish (Dissostichus eleginoides). Scientists took reference samples of these three species from MSC certified fisheries and analysed their DNA profiles. The team took samples from MSC-labelled products sold in four key markets (the USA, the UK, Germany and Japan) and compared their DNA profiles with those of the reference samples. All were found to be the species declared on the pack.
The next phase of the DNA testing program will assess more products containing Alaska salmon, Alaska pollock and South Georgia toothfish, and develop tests for a further four fish species: Pacific cod (Gadus macrocephalus), hake (Merluccius paradoxus and M. capensis), hoki (Macruronus novaezelandiae)and herring (Clupea harengus).