Catfish Sold As Cod In UK Fish & Chip Shops

(Mail) – A BREED OF CATFISH, farmed in Vietnam, is being passed off as cod throughout the country, experts believe.

It sells for less than half the price of real cod in wholesale markets; but customers at the chippy are being charged as if it is the real thing.

Trading standards officers in Worcestershire have already successfully prosecuted one shop for passing off as cod Pangasius hypophthalmus, also known as river cobbler, basa, or iridiscent shark. Two other prosecutions are in the pipeline.

Trading standards division manager John Dell said: ‘I would think this is widespread. There will be other fish-and-chip shops around the country who are trying to pull a fast one.’

The catfish typically sells for £5 a kilo wholesale, compared with £11.75 for cod.

Mr Dell’s office was alerted by a complaint from a customer and sent in officials to buy samples. ‘Initially, the analyst couldn’t establish what it was but after some detective work, we found it was the pangasius,’ said Mr Dell.

‘As a raw fillet it looks different to cod – it doesn’t have the same flakes. But battered, it is difficult to tell the difference.’

One of the reasons chip shops have been able to get away with the scam is that neither cod or the catfish has a strong taste, particularly when masked by batter, salt and vinegar.

Mr Dell said: ‘Our main objection is the fact that people are being charged a higher price for cod when they are being sold something different. It is unfair on the public and it is unfair on competitors who are selling real cod. We are seeing a big increase in food-and-drink fraud. People will use any angle these days.’