Marine Stewardship Council: New research reveals levels of consumer trust in seafood labelling

LONDON–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Early results from the MSC’s latest survey of more than 16,000 seafood
consumers show that more than half (55%) doubt that the seafood they
consume is what it says on the packet. Across the 21 countries surveyed,
65% of those purchasing seafood say they want to know that their fish
can be traced back to a known and trusted source, with six in ten (63%)
saying they look to ecolabels as a trusted source of information.

The findings come as the organisation today released results from its
DNA testing of MSC labelled seafood products. In 2015, the MSC
commissioned the
Wildlife DNA Forensics unit at Science and Advice for Scottish
Agriculture (SASA)
to conduct DNA tests on a random sample of 257 MSC
labelled seafood products from 16 countries. The test verifies that the
species described on the packaging is the same as that in the product.
The DNA test results show that over 99%* of MSC labelled products are
correctly labelled.

MSC CEO Rupert Howes said, Given a recent academic
study showing that globally around 30% of seafood is mislabelled
the results of the MSC’s DNA testing program are very positive. Seafood
sold with the blue MSC label can be traced back to a sustainable source,
and our robust chain of custody requirements provide reassurance that
it’s correctly labelled.”

The latest round of DNA testing is the fifth to be commissioned by the
MSC. Previous results also showed very little mislabelling. The results
are captured in a new report, Ocean
to plate: how DNA testing helps to ensure traceable sustainable seafood

Mr Howes adds: “High profile food scares such as the European
horsemeat scandal have left many consumers wary of claims made on food
packaging. Food fraud undermines the efforts of reputable fishers and
traders and has led to wide recognition of the need for credible
traceability in the supply chain. The MSC Chain of Custody program is
one of the most recognised and widely used ways of providing this
reassurance to seafood consumers and businesses.”

Fishers, processors, retailers and chefs handling MSC certified
sustainable seafood must follow strict requirements to ensure that
seafood is traceable and correctly labelled. The MSC Chain of Custody
Standard is used by international seafood suppliers, brands and
retailers such as IKEA, McDonalds, Iglo and Lidl to ensure the integrity
of their products.

Alfredd Schumm, WWF’s Smart Fishing Initiative leader said: “By
preferentially purchasing sustainable seafood, consumers are rewarding
responsible fishers and their efforts to safeguard our marine resources.
A traceable supply chain, from the consumer back to sustainable
fisheries, is fundamental to consumers’ trust and confidence in
the seafood they’re buying. The MSC’s requirements for traceability are
essential if we are to maintain healthy fish populations and ocean

There are more than 20,000 MSC labelled products available in around 100

The MSC has released a new
animation showing the journey of MSC certified seafood from ocean to
. Follow: #OceanToPlate.


Notes for editors

*99.6% were correctly labelled. One sample, labelled as
southern rock sole, was discovered to contain northern rock sole. Both
species are MSC certified. Actions have been taken to ensure that this
error does not reoccur.

Jimenez and Perez-Villarreal (2016)
compared 51 papers on seafood
labelling and found an average mislabelling rate of 30%.

Research figures were provided by independent research and evidence-led
insights company, GlobeScan.
The total sample size was 16,876 from 21 countries. The survey was
carried out online between January and February 2016.

About the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC)

The MSC is an international non-profit organization. Its vision is for
the world’s oceans to be teeming with life, and seafood supplies
safeguarded for this and future generations.


Marine Stewardship Council
Adisa Amanor-Wilks, Global Media
Relations Manager
+44 (0) 7983 830876