We’re going to sea today, with 60 million consumers. We will help our listeners to choose the fish they put on their plates. Particularly in ready meals. Patricia Chairopoulos conducted the investigation and sifted through 56 products: tuna, brandade, breaded fish, surimi …
franceinfo: What did you want to know?
What was inside! We searched, with the collaboration of WWF, to assess the sustainability of 56 selected products, and published an environmental score. This is based on the three criteria – species, area and fishing technique – and three levels of marks have been attributed: “to favor”, “in moderation” and “to avoid”. In addition, we have carried out analyzes and deciphered the labels to assess the quality of all products.
On sustainable fishing, how can the consumer know if the fish has been caught in conditions that respect the environment and the resource?
As much for fresh fish, the consumer knows the fishing conditions in which it was caught, because this information has been mandatory since 2014. Unfortunately, it is not for processed products, made from fish, such as surimi for example. .
As a result, the consumer knows little or nothing about the environmental aspect of the product. This is evidenced by the packaging of canned tuna, breaded hake, cod brandades and surimis selected for our survey: they are very discreet, even silent, on fishing techniques. It also depends on the family of products, since canned tuna, even if they are not all virtuous, and even certain brands should be avoided, at least indicate the species and often the fishing gear used. Conversely, we deplore a lack of transparency crying out for surimis and cod brandades.
Let’s move on to your test results. Canned tuna first. Is the quality rather there?
Yes, this family is doing pretty well; we looked for heavy metals like lead and mercury, which can accumulate in the flesh of this fish, and the results are generally good. Ditto for the quality of the flesh, in the sense that our analyzes hardly found any fragment of skin or bone, except for two references.
The big defect of this product is its high salt content, knowing that the tuna is cooked and preserved with brine: six references among the 14 references of the test even exceed 1 gram / 100 grams of product. Remember that salt promotes the occurrence of cardiovascular diseases.
In terms of sustainability, a small third of our canned tuna are judged to be “Avoid”, firstly because they are yellowfin tuna, including stocks in the Indian Ocean and, to a lesser extent. , the eastern central Atlantic and the Pacific are overfished. Three references are also penalized for the lack of information on the fishing method. Fortunately, several references are doing better: they give clear indications and guarantee a good state of stocks of the species and fishing techniques with a limited impact on ecosystems.
Now let’s talk about this fish which has a funny shape! All square and all yellow! Breaded fish, familiar to children … Result: rather consistent tests
It is indeed the most uniform family of the test, by the omnipresence of the MSC label. (Marine Stewardship Council) – supposed to ensure that the fish were fished sustainably – and the species used, the Alaska pollock. The fishing zone, managed by several countries such as the United States and Russia, is one of the largest fisheries in the world, the stock of which is globally exploited in a sustainable manner.
The problem for these products is the lack of information on the fishing method, a priori, midwater trawl or bottom trawl. We therefore believe that consumption should be done “in moderation” for all references. However, the quantity of fish, around 65-70%, is satisfactory, as is the composition, knowing that the majority of breaded hake in our panel does not contain any additives; four products are less virtuous, in particular one which contains three additives used to “improve” the breading.
Let’s move on to the cod brandade. There, you have completely taken out the DNA tests!
And yes, and we did well, since two brandades also contain a species other than cod, not indicated on the packaging; so we have downgraded them. Otherwise, the amount of fish is very variable, much more than in breaded hake. It goes from single or almost double, the best showing 40% fish against 23% for the poorest.
Bad point also on the salt content, which reaches 1.35 g / 100 grams for a reference, which is really excessive. As for the environmental score, WWF sees red for all brandades! LONG deplores the lack of transparency on these products. She advises to avoid consuming the selected products.
And the surimis now, to be consumed in moderation, you say? Why ?
Yes, in moderation because the transparency on the species of fish used to make this paste – whose only obligation is to contain at least 30% of fish – their sources and the fishing gear, is almost zero. This is why we have judged all the surimis “to be avoided”, with the exception of a reference which uses only one species and which indicates it.
On the other hand, we recognize progress on their composition: manufacturers have removed almost all additives. Of our 14 references, we only find paprika extract (E160c) which brings the characteristic orange color of the surimi stick. It has the advantage of being natural and of not presenting a proven risk to health.
But even more than other products, surimi is very salty, between 1.5 and 1.8 g / 100g, or almost a third of the recommended daily allowance! Such levels can be harmful to health, especially since surimi is often given to children.