Restaurants must take responsibility for serving the right species of fish, the Sustainable Restaurant Association (SRA) has warned, after a report suggested some establishments had fake cod and haddock on their menus.
Figures supplied to the Food Standards Agency (FSA) suggested that checks in 2011 revealed that 41 of 303 inspections of packaged fish and in catering businesses failed to meet labelling requirements. In 27 cases the fish described as cod was another species, such as haddock, whiting or pollock.
The SRA said the news was a wake-up call for many in the catering industry, highlighting the need for operators to take steps to ensure they know exactly what they are serving their customers.
It added that restaurants committed to being in control of their sourcing could use the SRA's fish-specific supplier agreement, which includes clauses that preclude the supply of fish from illegal, unreported or unregulated sources, and demand proof of traceability, including where and when the fish was caught.
Mark Linehan, managing director of the SRA, said: "As the horse meat scandal has shown us, diners will vote with their wallets if businesses don't take responsibility for their supply chain. Consumers want transparency and restaurants are duty bound to provide it."
SRA member and Welsh Sustainable Restaurant of the Year Enoch's Fish and Chips, in Llandudno, has five fish suppliers and has agreements and a close working relationship with all of them.
Owner Danny White-Meir said: "We have a duty to serve what we say we are serving and I can sleep easy at night because I speak to my suppliers all the time and they provide me with all the documentation I want, telling me exactly what the fish is, as well as where and when it was caught. That means we can confidently tell our customers we are serving them cod, haddock, hake or pollock and they know that's precisely what they are getting."