Determining the Authenticity of Shark Meat Products by DNA Sequencing

Published on
28. August 2020

Determining the Authenticity of Shark Meat Products by DNA Sequencing

Patrizia Marchetti, Anna Mottola, Roberta Piredda, Giuseppina Ciccarese, Angela Di Pinto


Given that the global shark meat market is poised to grow in future years, the aim of this study was to use DNA sequencing of the cytochrome c oxidase I (COI) and NADH dehydrogenase subunit 2 (NADH2) mitochondrial genes to examine the market of shark meat products in Italy. This made it possible to analyze patterns of species utilization and commercialization of threatened, endangered and/or prohibited species, focusing on fraudulent activities in the shark food chain in order to propose seafood safety and environmental sustainability solutions. The study shows that the labeling of shark meat products generally lacks comprehensive information, thus making it difficult for consumers to make informed purchasing decisions and fails to comply with European Union (EU) legislation regarding seafood labelling. Molecular investigation reveals a high mislabeling rate (45.4%), highlighting widespread use of cheaper species either in order to replace species that are better known and more popular, or else in order to sell various threatened species. Considering that seafood mislabeling can circumvent the management of sustainable fisheries and facilitate Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing, the routine use of genetic analysis should be encouraged among control and enforcement agencies in order to implement effective management measures. This would help to build a species-specific reporting system for all catches, and enhance control measures, in order to prevent illegal activities connected with shark catches and trade around the world.

Foods 2020, 9(9), 1194, DOI: 10.3390/foods9091194


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