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Fish Fraud: Is your salmon wild, farmed or even Scottish?

"Scottish" salmon with confusing country of origin labelling

Salmon season runs from late spring to early September. This is when the salmon are at their peak physical development ready to make their trek from the ocean back upstream to reproduce. And so naturally, that season is when the market is flooded with wild-caught salmon, and when less salmon fraud is likely to occur. In fact, in previous studies, Oceana had previously only found a 7% rate of salmon fraud, because they were testing the fish during peak salmon season, when wild-caught salmon is more plentiful.

But that doesn’t mean that you can’t find wild-caught salmon other times of the year – you absolutely can, because it’s flash frozen. However, when the frozen stock eventually gets depleted the likelihood of mislabelling farmed salmon as wild salmon becomes a higher risk.

With this knowledge, we can assume that during off season there is a higher risk of fraudulent behaviour. Sea-Pac owner Alistair Thompson, from Aberdeenshire, admitted fraud at Aberdeen Sheriff Court after labelling the fish as coming from Shetland Products and Fraserburgh Freezing and Cold Storage – companies which had been approved for exporting to Russia, Lithuania and Estonia, reports BBC Scotland (

Alistair Thompson admitted to fraudulently obtaining more than £200,000 by deliberately mislabelling Scottish salmon in order to export them to Eastern Europe. Sea-Pac has since gone into liquidation, and the case – which is believed to be one of the most significant food crime incidents in Scotland – was brought to court following a four-year investigation led by Aberdeen City Council.

Agroisolab can offer origin testing for salmon declared to be from Norway, Chile and are currently building new reference data base for the United Kingdom.

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