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France fears fish fraud follows beef

Horsemeat scandal prompts new checks on seafood for evidence of substitution

FEARS of a new scandal to match the horsemeat/beef fraud have prompted consumer fraud agents to turn their eyes on the fish industry – to make sure there are no similar practices.

Consumer Minister Benoît Hamon ordered the new probe saying: “We are acting in case species have already been substituted. Samples are being taken from both prepared dishes and fish stalls.”

Investigators from the DGCCRF will be checking that the sole, halibut and sea bass is as it claims to be and not cheaper fish substituted. The horsemeat scandal has gone round the world with cheaper horsemeat being substituted for beef in what is feared to be a multi-million euro fraud.

Hamon said that bosses of companies involved in such frauds already faced fines of up to €180,000 and two years in jail – and that was not proving sufficient. He would push for increased penalties in the new consumer law being presented in April.

DGCCRF agents uncovered 15,700 frauds in 740,000 checks in 142,000 businesses last year and Hamon said that despite a 16% reduction in staff over the past five years he was ringfencing jobs in 2013. He also called for increased use of “mystery shoppers” to uncover fraud.
Photo: Rhian vK

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