New salmon tests needed after mislabeling

Published on
December 3, 2015

With Oceana reporting that 40 percent of salmon samples in U.S. restaurants and grocery stores are mislabeled, supermarket chains, distributors and others are looking for ways to remedy the problem.

To help identify the proper species of salmon, Baltimore, Md.-based InstantLabs introduced rapid DNA tests for Sockeye and Chinook salmon this week, after launching tests for Atlantic and coho salmon in March.

“Salmon is one of the most popular fishes sold in the US, and a lot of people want to know if their salmon is wild versus farmed,” InstantLabs CEO Steve Guterman told SeafoodSource. The two new salmon tests round out the company’s assays – which produce results in around two hours – of the most popular salmon species on the market.

Developed in conjunction with the University of Guelph, the new test kits will be offered as part of the InstantLabs’ InstantID™ Species product line, which also includes tests for U.S. catfish and Atlantic Blue Crab.

In addition to the recent Oceana data on salmon mislabeling, many U.S. consumers are concerned about the recent Food and Drug Administration approval of AquAdvantage genetically modified salmon. “That salmon will have a very unique fingerprint. If there is a demand for a [DNA] test, we would develop a test,” Guterman said.

Meanwhile, large grocery chains and seafood distributors will likely be the primary users of the new suite of salmon tests available from InstantLabs.

“The large supermarket chains have an implicit belief that customers are expecting them to test their products,” Guterman said. “Their customers trust them and they do other types of inspections, but no one is doing extensive testing. That is why, when Oceana takes random samples, they are ending up with such a high level of mislabeling.”

In addition, it is more likely for substitutions to occur when retailers and restaurants receive filleted salmon, rather than the whole fish. “As the fish goes through filleting processes, it becomes close to impossible to know exactly what you have,” Guterman said.

Contributing Editor



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