06.Labels and logos
What fish is that?
Labels on fish can be confusing. There’s now an Australian Fish Names Standard, but it’s only voluntary. Without this information you can’t be sure what species of fish you’re buying, and it’s even less likely you’ll be able to find out how it was caught. When you’re buying whole fish you might at least have an idea of what you’re getting, but fillets can be a complete mystery.
We found plenty of fish in supermarkets and specialist fish shops with names that aren’t in the standard, and were disappointed to find that some of these are from the big name brands of frozen fish, Sealord and I&J.
Retailers are now legally required to display the country of origin. However, this can be so vague as to be almost meaningless, such as prawns labelled as coming from “China, Vietnam or Thailand”. Manufacturers of canned or frozen fish can also hide behind the catch-all “Made in Australia from local and imported ingredients”.
Marine Stewardship Council This international organisation has developed standards for sustainable fishing, which are published on its website. It has certified sustainable fisheries in most parts of the world, including two in Australia. Its logo on canned or frozen fish is a good indication that the product came from a sustainable fishery.
Approved fish names Retailers displaying this logo are committed to accurately labelling their fish using the Australian Fish Names Standard.
What CHOICE wants
In the UK many unprocessed fish products must now be labelled with the production method, that is, whether it was farmed or caught in the wild, and where. CHOICE would like to see a similar mandatory system here. Meanwhile, if the species of fish or its country of origin is unclear, don’t buy it.