Fish fraud is a major problem. I’ve lost count of the number of times I thought I’d purchased a herring, only to find out it was a pilchard, sending me into a spiral of fishy angst. A device which promotes itself as “Shazam for fish” promises to put an end to such misery.
Fishazam allows its users to point their smartphone at a fish – dead or alive – and instantly be informed of its species.
It aims to address the problem of fish sold at retail or wholesale being incorrectly labelled, either accidentally or deliberately.
Apparently, there is a major problem with customers being misled as to the species of fish they are purchasing. Marine conservation group Oceana states that about one-third of fish being sold at restaurants and shops in the US is not correctly identified.
In taking more than 1000 samples of seafood from almost 700 retails outlets across the US, Oceana found this problem with incorrect labelling of fish species was particularly prevalent at sushi restaurants and supermarkets. There is a clear temptation for fishmongers and restaurants to mislead their customers by labelling cheap fish as more expensive varieties.
Because, let’s be honest, the average punter can hardly eyeball a piece of fish and correctly discern, every time, what the species is. Even sushi chefs struggle at times, as highlighted by Oceana’s annual dinner, where it puts chefs to the test in this regard.
That’s why we rely on labelling. But, clearly, we shouldn’t. Enter Fishazam, with its cutting edge infrared technology. As explained on their website, Fishazam uses infrafred spectroscopy, a technique which analyses chemical compositions and has been shown by previous studies to be effective in identifying species of fish.
Fishazam, while still in its development stage, allows users to attach a small infrafred spectrometer to the rear of their phone. Working in concert, these two pieces of technology provide you with swift and accurate identification of any fish.
Dishonest fishmongers and sushi chefs of the world beware – we’re onto you, and soon you’ll have nowhere to hide thanks to Fishazam.