i Editor's Letter: Brits are funny about fish


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The Independent Online


So fish turn out to be fishy after all. That’s no surprise to the many Britons who are funny fish about eating the damned things unless they’re smothered in batter and deep fried. As I said recently, my girls and I did just that last weekend, and delicious it was too.

News that mislabelled fish has found its way into our food chain was coming ever since the horse meat scandal first blew up. Across Europe, up to one third of the fish products tested was not as claimed on the packet or menu. Seven per cent of cod and haddock turn out to be different, cheaper fish like pollock. It’s particularly bad when it comes to processed fish products like fish fingers and fish cakes.

It’s hardly surprising in a world where Scottish smoked salmon is not guaranteed to come from Scotland, but could be from Norway. For the “real thing” you need to buy smoked Scottish salmon. Or that reassuringly Scottish-sounding fish under the M & S Lochmuir brand can come from all over, as there is no such place as Lochmuir. Oh, organic absolutely does not mean not farmed.

Our problems with fish run deeper still, even once we’ve got beyond whether species like sea bass are sustainable. Even healthy eaters turn their nose up at delicious, simply grilled trout or mackerel, let alone sardines or whitebait. Too many fear bones and scales, which can be so easily dealt with. Others shun fish that look like fish, such as whole trout.

Although sushi is beginning belatedly to gain a foothold, for a nation surrounded by seas we really need to learn to become more adventurous than battered haddock and canned tuna.