How to know what’s really in your fish dinner, research reveals UK chippies are selling to unsuspecting customers SHARK

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Written By Daily Mail

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If you’ve recently eaten at a chippie in the UK, you may have accidentally eaten shark.

This is demonstrated by a recent study, which found that shark is now used as a stealth substitute for more expensive fish.

Without any legal requirement to name species on the menu, customers often have no idea that they are actually eating an endangered species.

But once it’s filleted, battered and fried, how can you know what’s on your plate?

MailOnline spoke to experts to give you some simple tips to make sure you know exactly what you’re getting.

Experts say fish and chip shops in the UK are serving shark to unsuspecting customers, but how do you know if what you're eating is actually an endangered shark?  (archive image)

Experts say fish and chip shops in the UK are serving shark to unsuspecting customers, but how do you know if what you’re eating is actually an endangered shark? (archive image)

Five tips to avoid eating shark

1. Know your species

The shark can be sold under different names, so make sure you know what you are ordering.

2. Don’t be afraid to ask

Merchants do not need to display information about the species on the menu, but the law requires them to tell you if you ask them about it.

3. Avoid cheap offers

Cheap stores may be taking shortcuts. Fish is a premium protein worth paying a fair price for.

4. Taste the difference

The shark is a fleshy and scaly fish, without bones or scales.

5. Eat what is sustainable

There may be nothing wrong with eating certain species of shark if they are caught sustainably; It all depends on what they serve you.

A recent study from Dalhousie University found that more sharks are being killed for their meat than ever before.

In fact, researchers suggest that bans on hunting sharks for their fins may have encouraged fishermen to open new markets for the meat.

But even if you haven’t knowingly been buying sharks, experts say you could be unintentionally contributing to global trade.

Shark meat is sold as an unlabelled “mystery meat” throughout the UK and is usually simply called “fried fish”.

A 2019 study of fish and chip shops in the south-east of England found that 90 per cent served shark.

Surprisingly, some of the stores surveyed didn’t even know that what they served was shark.

Andrew Crook, president of the National Fish Fryers Federation (NFF), told MailOnline this practice is quite common.

“Sometimes, even with regular fish and chips, it’s not illegal to just have ‘Fish and Chips’ on the menu,” he said.

But when stores don’t openly display fish species, “you have no idea what you’re eating,” he added.

1. Know your species

One of the biggest problems is that even when the name of the fish is given, it doesn’t say “shark.”

In chip shops, especially in the south of England, you may see some unusual names on the menu.

However, what they don’t tell you is that these are usually names of a species of shark.

Ali Hood, conservation director at the Shark Trust, told MailOnline: ‘In some parts of the UK, shark meat is traditionally sold under a few different names, such as Rock Salmon, Huss and Flake.

“This meat is predominantly Spurdog or Smoothhound, two species regularly found in UK coastal waters.”

There is no law requiring chippies to display the species name on the menu, meaning the shark can be sold in rock form, in scales or even simply as

There is no law requiring chippies to display the species name on the menu, meaning the shark can be sold in rock form, in flakes or even simply as “fish and chips”.

What names are sharks sold under in the UK?

In the United Kingdom, some species of shark are commonly sold in fish and chip shops under alternative names.

These shark species are the Spiny Dogfish, the Starry Smoothhound, and the Bull Huss.

You may hear them sold as rock, rock salmon, rock eel, huss, or scalefish.

Crook told MailOnline that the use of these names “has been going on for a long time, it’s something that’s ingrained in people.”

However, the use of alternative names for shark species can obscure the fact that the public is being offered a potentially endangered species.

The starry hound is considered “near threatened” by the IUCN, meaning it is close to being endangered.

The government recently lifted the ban on fishing for spiny dogfish, also called spiny dogfish, in UK waters.

The ban was imposed after overfishing brought the species to the brink of extinction, reducing its numbers by up to 90 percent.

The government says the numbers are now high enough to allow fishing for this species again.

However, as Mr Crook points out, most of the dogfish sold in fish and chip shops in the UK comes from North American fisheries.

The NFF also points out that dogfish are exceptionally slow growing, extremely vulnerable to overfishing and heavily exploited for European demand.

Dogfish is a type of shark, but fish and chip shops in the UK are more likely to serve it as rock, scale or even rock eel.

Dogfish is a type of shark, but fish and chip shops in the UK are more likely to serve it as rock, scale or even rock eel.

2. Don’t be afraid to ask

Crook says the best way to make sure you know what you’re getting is to simply ask.

“We always encourage consumers to talk to the store owner and they should be able to tell them where the fish comes from,” he said.

Although there is no law requiring stores to display the name of the species on menus, Crook says there are laws requiring store owners to inform customers if requested.

Mr Crook said: “Any shop owner worth his salt should be able to tell you what fish is.”

“No one has anything to hide and we encourage people to be as open as possible and give the customer as much information as possible.”

Starry Smoothhound is considered

Starry Smoothhound is considered “near threatened,” meaning it is close to endangered. If you think you’re being served, experts say the best thing to do is ask

3. Avoid cheap offers

As is often the case, if something sounds too good to be true; It probably is.

Cod, which is usually the fish of choice for many diners, has become extremely expensive lately.

Until very recently, most of the cod sold in UK fish and chip shops came from Russia.

But when war broke out in Ukraine, tariffs on Russian imports caused the price of cod to skyrocket.

Crook says he went from paying £110 for 40lb (18kg) of cod to paying £250 for the same amount of fish a year later.

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