Putting Canada's Seafood Labels to the Test

Canada needs better seafood labelling and you can help.

Program launches April 24, 2017

CONSUMERS FIGHTING FOOD FRAUD

Seafood sold in the Canadian marketplace is subject to inadequate labelling regulations that allow for misrepresentation or fraud to occur along the supply chain. Consumers are left not knowing whether their purchases contribute to environmental degradation or human right abuses.

Launched in 2006, SeaChoice was created to provide informative resources on seafood sustainability at various levels of the seafood supply chain – from harvesters to consumers. SeaChoice is working with LifeScanner to empower consumers to genetically test the validity of the label and report labelling practices, at major seafood retailers across Canada so that we can better understand the magnitude of poor or incorrect labelling.

Knowledge is power – and SeaChoice’s newest campaign hopes to help ensure that all Canadians have the power to choose seafood that is good for the oceans and the people that depend on them.

HOW TO USE LIFESCANNER

Receive and Register your Kit

Receive a project specific 2-vial LifeScanner kit in the mail beginning April 24, 2017. Each kit contains: 2 sampling vials with special chemicals, a pair of tweezers, and a pre-paid return package

To get started with your kit, register here. You will find the kit code number on the Kit Registration Voucher that comes with your kit.

Buy seafood at a local supermarket

Each kit contains two sampling vials. In one sample vial you are required to purchase fresh or frozen wild captured “whitefish”, such as cod. In the second vial you can either buy another whitefish sample or fresh or frozen shrimp, tuna or wild salmon. Canned fish is NOT suitable for this project.

See definitions of wild captured, and whitefish in the FAQ section below.

Data Collection

Before you sample, be sure to take front, back, and side pictures of your seafood purchase while still in the original packaging with your sample vial in the photograph. If you are buying from a fish counter or fishmonger, record the details on the price marker in the display case, as there are often more details about type and source of the fish.

Use the LifeScanner site to submit the data for each vial. Fill in the fields based on the detailed instructions in the FAQ section below. Not all of the information fields will be available on the packaging.

Return your kit

Please complete your samples, place in return envelope, and put in the mail by World Oceans Day on June 8, 2017.

See Your Results

The purchase location of your sample will be identified on a map of Canada. The resulting DNA barcode is compared against thousands of seafood species collected from around the world to see if what you bought corresponds correctly to the label. Check back here to learn about what you found.

This project is a collaboration between LifeScanner and SeaChoice. SeaChoice is a program of the David Suzuki Foundation, Ecology Action Centre and the Living Oceans Society.

For questions or more information, please contact SeaChoice by clicking here.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Q: How do I get a kit under this program?

A: SeaChoice is distributing a survey to find consumers across Canada to participate in this program. If you would like to participate in the survey for a chance to be one of the selected consumers, click here.


Q: What is ‘wild-caught whitefish’?

A: Wild-caught whitefish can be any white-fleshed fish that was not farmed. Currently, indicating ‘farmed’ or ‘wild’ is not a requirement on Canadian seafood labels. When purchasing your fish, you may need to ask someone if it is wild or farmed. Common wild-caught whitefish are sole, flounder, cod, halibut, rockfish, haddock, hake, pollock, pickerel or snapper.


Q: Why does one of my two samples need to be fresh or frozen wild-caught whitefish?

A: Wild-caught whitefish are one of the most commonly mislabelled seafood products, so we want our test to specifically target this category of fish. The other sample can be another type of non-canned seafood from a retailer or a different whitefish product.


Q: Why do I need to purchase my own seafood? How much do I need to purchase?

A: SeaChoice is incurring the costs of the sampling and mailing kits to volunteers (about $35 per kit). We are asking participants to pay for their own seafood, of which only a small amount is needed for testing. For the purpose of this project, you may purchase the smallest amount possible. We will provide recipes for volunteers in case you want to create a meal with any extra fish you have purchased.


Q: Can my seafood samples come from a restaurant?

A: For this phase of the project we are asking that participants only sample from grocery stores and fishmongers.


Q: What will happen with the data collected?

A: Once collected and validated, sequence data will be published to BOLD Systems and GenBank.


Q: Is my privacy protected?

A: Although LifeScanner is a citizen science project that prefers to provide credit to those citizen scientists using the system, for the purposes of this project, your personal data will remain private.