Labeling Compliance, Species Authentication and Net Weight Identification of Frozen Fish Fillets Sold in Grocery Stores in Southern California
Date of Award
Master of Science (MS)
Proper labeling of seafood is important to prevent economic deception, promote consumer awareness, and prevent exposure of at-risk groups to certain allergens and toxins. The objective of this study was to investigate prepackaged frozen fish sold in Southern California for Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) compliance, species authentication, use of acceptable market names, net weights, and percent glaze. A total of 111 frozen fish fillets from 13 different fish categories were purchased from grocery stores in Southern California. The fish categories targeted for this study were: catfish, cod, flounder, halibut, mahi-mahi orange rough, pollock, salmon, swai, swordfish, tilapia, tuna, and whiting. Samples were determined to be COOL compliant if they reported both procurement method and country of origin at the point of sale. Species authentication and acceptable market names were determined by comparing the species identification based on DNA barcoding to the labeling recommendations in the FDA Seafood List. Net weights and percent glaze were determined by recording the weight of each product before and after deglazing. Of the 111 samples, 110 (99%) were compliant with COOL: the one noncompliant sample displayed the country of origin but did not indicate the production method. Short weighting was detected in 10 of the 111 fish fillets (9%) based on the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) standards of maximum allowable weight variation. The average percent glaze was 5%, with a range of 0% to 34%, and eight samples had >10% glaze. The majority of fish (95.5%) were correctly labeled with regards to species. Species substitution was discovered in two of the 111 (1.8%) samples, and unacceptable market names were observed for an additional two samples. Overall, the results of this study indicate a high level of COOL compliance and minimal species substitution in prepackaged frozen fish fillets sold in Southern California. However, the results do suggest a need for increased focus on practices involving short weighting and/or overglazing of frozen fish products.
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Peterson, A.M. (2020). Labeling compliance, species authentication and net weight identification of frozen fish fillets sold in grocery stores in southern California. Master's thesis, Chapman University. https://doi.org/10.36837/chapman.000141