Some UK fish and chips are reportedly made from endangered sharks.
Researchers at the University of Exeter used DNA barcoding on 100 samples to identify species on sale at UK fish and chips shops. They found that though most shops use generic names for the fish such as “huss, rock, flake, and rock salmon,” the fish being sold was actually spiny dogfish. The spiny dogfish is a shark species classified as endangered in Europe.
“It’s almost impossible for consumers to know what they are buying,” Exeter lead researcher Catherine Hobbs explained. “People might think they’re getting a sustainably sourced product when they’re actually buying a threatened species.”
Researchers also found shark fins belonging to the globally endangered scalloped hammerhead shark being unknowingly sold by a British wholesaler.
“The discovery of endangered hammerhead sharks highlights how widespread the sale of declining species really is — even reaching Europe and the UK,” Exeter researcher Andrew Griffiths explained. “Scalloped hammerheads can be imported under strict conditions, but the wholesaler had no idea what species the fin belonged to.”
While the UK government allows shark species to be sold under generic names, the researchers are calling for more accurate food labeling so consumers can be informed about what they’re eating.