Spanish authorities seize 45 tons of illegal frozen tuna

Published on
August 15, 2018

Spanish authorities seized 45 tons of illegal frozen tuna from seafood distributors in the country.

Three unnamed distributors bought “clandestine” thawed tuna at a price well below the value for fresh tuna, but turned around and sold it at as fresh tuna, according to a press release from Seprona, Spain’s Nature Protection Service, which collaborated with Interpol and Europol on the sting.

Three boats from France, El Salvador, and Panama that supply canned tuna companies participated in the scheme, according to Seprona. The boats and distributors thawed frozen tuna caught in the Atlantic Ocean, and then processed it with additives injected in amounts “much higher than those recommended,” Seprona said in the release.

The aim was “to make the treated tuna look similar to fresh tuna, with a clear deception to the consumer,” Seprona said. “The fraud was consummated when this fish destined to preserve, whose value does not reach EUR 3.00 (USD 3.40)  per kilo, was put on sale as fresh for amounts of up to EUR 14.00 (USD 15.88) per kilo.”

The perpetrators – four people between 49 and 59 years old – each face sentences of between one and four years in prison, along with potential administrative sanctions. Seprona seized the illegal tuna in Alicante, Murcia, and A Coruña provinces.

In its first inspection, the Civil Guard seized 10 tons of bigeye tuna for not having the necessary traceability for commercialization. During a subsequent inspection at another wholesaler, the Civil Guard found several lots of frozen yellowfin tuna that did not have certifying origin or the system used for freezing. 

“The agents could verify that this company chopped the tuna, and later distributed them as thawed fish or prepared with additives,” Seprona said.

 The Spanish Agency for Consumer Affairs, Food Safety and Nutrition has issued several reports warning of the public health risk that consumption of this tuna can generate with irregular frozen processes.

The operation is still open and new actions have not been ruled out, according to Seprona.

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