Efficiency of DNA Mini-Barcoding to Assess Mislabeling in Commercial Fish Products in Italy: An Overview of the Last Decade

Foods. 2021 Jun 22;10(7):1449. doi: 10.3390/foods10071449.


The problem of fish traceability in processed products is still an important issue in food safety. Major attention is nowadays dedicated to consumer health and prevention of possible frauds regulated by national and international laws. For this reason, a technical approach is fundamental in revealing mislabeling at different levels. In particular, the use of genetic markers has been standardized and DNA barcoding is considered the gold-standard strategy to examine and prevent species substitution. Considering the richness of available DNA databases, it is nowadays possible to rapidly reach a reliable taxonomy at the species level. Among different approaches, an innovative method based on DNA mini barcoding has recently been proposed at an international level. Starting from this evidence, we herein illustrate an investigation dealing with the evolution of this topic in Italy over the last decade. The molecular analysis of 71 commercial fish samples based on mini-COI sequencing with two different primer sets reached an amplification success rate of 87.3 and 97.2%. The investigation revealed four major frauds (5.8%) and four minor ones (5.8%). Results highlighted a decrease in incorrect labeling in Italy from 32% to 11.6% over the last decade, although a recurrent involvement of "endangered" species sensu IUCN was still observed.

Keywords: biodiversity; conservation; cytochrome oxidase; food frauds; mitochondrial DNA; molecular genetics.