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Mislabelled frozen fish fillets in the Klang Valley in Malaysia and its potential impact on consumers

Abstract

Seafood mislabelling ocurrs globally and is under much scrutiny. Many developed countries have strict management and enforcement efforts in place, and report that the problem is under control. However, in developing countries this problem appears rampant and remains unchecked. This study assessed mislabelled commercial frozen fish fillets in the Klang Valley, Malaysia. DNA barcode analysis of cytochrome oxidase subunit 1 (CO1) was used to systematically identify 55 species samples comprising 12 common fish name labels sampled from selected supermarkets. DNA sequences of 8 samples failed to amplify, while 5 out of the remaining 47 samples were mislabelled (10.6%). The primary substituted fish was the imported freshwater striped catfish Pangasianodon hypophthalmus labelled as dory, cod and flatfish with a substitution rate of 60%. Additionally, the study also revealed a potential problem regarding the use of generic fish names for Malaysian product labels. Five sample fillets were labelled as “ikan kerapu” or as grouper, comprising four different grouper species exposing consumers to a potential health risk. In conclusion, mislabelling is rampant in Malaysia and poses a problem in the seafood industry. Although its economic impact currently appears insignificant, potential health risks remain high due to issues of generalised product labelling.

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Notes

  1. https://www.boldsystems.org/ Accessed 10 August 2021

  2. https://www.ebi.ac.uk/Tools/msa/clustalo/

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Acknowledgements

We like to thank the anonymous reviewers whose comments and suggestions helped improve this manuscript. This study was funded by the Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia research grant Laureate-2013-004 awarded to SMG. The scholarship to NASR was funded by the MyBrain15 Scholarship under the Ministry of Higher Education Malaysia for an MSc study which this work originated from.

Funding

This study was funded by the Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia research grant, Laureate-2013-004 awarded to SMG. The scholarship to NASR was funded by the MyBrain15 Scholarship under the Ministry of Higher Education Malaysia.

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Contributions

SMG, YB and NASR conceived and planned the experiments. NASR carried out the experiments. YB, NSR and NMA contributed to the analysis and interpretation of the results. NASR and SMG took the lead in writing the manuscript. All authors provided critical feedback and helped shape the research, analysis and manuscript.

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Correspondence to Shahriman Mohd Ghazali.

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Razali, N.S., Bakar, Y., Mohd-Assaad, N. et al. Mislabelled frozen fish fillets in the Klang Valley in Malaysia and its potential impact on consumers. J Consum Prot Food Saf 17, 145–154 (2022). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00003-022-01373-1

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s00003-022-01373-1

Keywords

  • Food fraud
  • Mislabelled food
  • DNA barcoding
  • Seafood safety
  • Cytochrome oxidase subunit 1 (COI)
  • Pangasianodon hypophthalmus