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The Consumer Show

The Consumer Show

Fish

The Consumer Show

Irish supermarkets place a big emphasis on the Irish origin of the fresh meat they sell but could they do more to help shoppers identify the origins of the fresh fish they buy?

This week The Consumer Show's Kathriona Devereux surveys Irish supermarkets to find out how much of the fresh fish they sell is Irish and asks if the labelling of our fish is as clear as it could be?

Fish labelling is a complicated area but Irish fish can be considered as fish caught by an Irish vessel and processed in Ireland, or fish that is farmed in Ireland. The results of the survey were surprising:

  • 54% of Superquinn's fish counter is Irish and 50% of their pre-packed.
  • At Tesco 50% of fish on their counters is Irish, as is 30% of their pre-packed range.
  • At Supervalu 32% of their fresh and pre-packed fish is Irish - though shops near fishing ports sell significantly more.
  • Marks & Spencer, Aldi and Lidl don't have fish counters. Each sell just one Irish fish product in their pre-packed ranges.
  • Dunnes Stores did not respond to our request for information.

Existing labelling legislation requires four pieces of information on the label - the name of the fish, the method of production, the price and the origin. But the origin often only states 12 main catchment areas (such as the North East Atlantic). The North East Atlantic is a huge area and on a label doesn't let the consumer know if the fish is Irish.

However, in the last few years, new initiatives have emerged which could make a big difference for consumers. The Responsible Irish Fish label was set up by a group of Irish fishermen who want to promote fish caught in a responsible manner by Irish vessels, which is then processed in Ireland. When consumers see the RIF logo on fish counters they know that the fish is Irish and they are supporting the local economy.

Much more information could go on fish labels and the general advice to consumers is to ask where the fish is coming from.

TV Chef Martin Shanahan spoke to Keelin about the fish we buy in Ireland, agreeing that the fish we import and buy is not as good quality as the Irish fish that is exported to other countries. Martin feels the consumer needs to make informed choices, and to ask the person behind the fish counter whether the fish is Irish, and if not, consumers should vote with their feet.

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