In Brief

Fish and chip shops serving endangered shark

It is ‘almost impossible’ for consumers to know what they are buying, scientists say

fish and chips

Endangered sharks are commonly being sold at chip shops and fishmongers in the UK, an investigation has found.

DNA tests carried out at the University of Exeter found that the majority of fish samples were spiny dogfish, a small shark which is endangered in Europe and classed as vulnerable worldwide.

Of the 78 samples from chip shops in southern England, roughly 90% were found to be shark.

Scientists also found fins of scalloped hammerhead sharks, which are globally endangered, being sold by an Asian food wholesaler in England supplying Chinese restaurants, The Times reports.

The study’s authors said they could not tell if any rules had been broken as spiny dogfish caught as by-catch in EU waters can be sold under strict conditions, the paper adds.

“It’s almost impossible for consumers to know what they are buying,” said Catherine Hobbs, one of the authors of the study.

“People might think they’re getting a sustainably sourced product when they’re actually buying a threatened species.”

Shark meat is typically sold under general names such as huss, rock salmon and rock eel.

This form of labelling is permitted, but the findings have prompted calls for more stringent food labelling so people know exactly what they are consuming.

“There are also health issues,” Hobbs says. “Knowing what species you are buying could be important in terms of allergies, toxins, mercury content and the growing concern over microplastics in the marine food chain.”

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