New tests could catch Barra cheats

Posted by Nicole Eckersley on 8th June 2010

barramundiBarramundi Farmers Association president Marty Phillips announced new tests today that can tell Australian Barramundi from the Asian fish of the same species.

New research by Associate Professor Dean Jerry at James Cook University, supported by the Australian Barramundi industry and the Seafood Research Centre, allows the identification of the fish. Asian Seabass and Barramundi, while technically the same species, have significant and identifiable genetic differences.

According to Mr Phillips, the need from the test arises from the fact that Australian consumers are prepared to pay nearly double the price for Australian produce.

“This is because it is fresh, sustainable and premium quality,” he said. “Australian Barramundi is iconic.  It is on just about every menu in tropical tourist Australia.  So it damages our industry and consumers suffer if lower quality imported product is substituted for Australian.  It is just not as good.”

The Australian Barramundi industry, including farmed and wild fish, is worth over $50 million.

Mr Phillips believes there isn’t a major problem with mislabelled product, but said that potential Barra cheats needed to beware.

“The next step is to inform sellers and wholesalers that we can test scientifically to confirm whether it is Australian. We do not think there is a huge amount of fraud – but we can now properly and scientifically test to confirm origins when we think it is necessary,” Mr Phillips said.

Red Rooster was the subject of a similar controversy earlier this year after it was revealed that their Wild Barramundi Burger was made from Asian fish.