Supermarket meat and fish secrets: Testing the food you buy

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Secrets of supermarket meat and fish: Testing the food you buy

Investigators went undercover to test the supermarket meat and fish. Their studies uncovered lots of disturbing food fraud. As it turns out, that supermarket meat and fish might not be so healthy to consume after all.

Over 150 pieces of fish were tested to see if what consumers were buying was the actual fish stated on the label. Out of 153 samples tested, over one-fifth were labeled incorrectly. They found that packages of fish labeled as cod were actually haddock and/or pollock, much cheaper varieties of fish. Shark steaks were found to be sand bar shark which is actually an endangered species. Sand bar shark is illegal to sell in Canada where the testing was done.

Packages of fish labeled as wild caught salmon turned out to be farmed Atlantic salmon, yet another cheaper type of fish. Many countries have initiated DNA testing standards to assure consumers they are getting what they are buying. But those efforts are apparently not enough to guarantee it.

When it came to beef, several cuts were tested at the University of Manitoba. Cheaper cuts were found to be processed in tenderizers to make them more tender. This practice spreads e coli throughout the cuts of meat. Undercooking beef that has undergone this process will make you sick unless it is cooked to at least 158 degrees Fahrenheit or medium-well. Research showed that none of the beef labels across 20 different sotres stated that a tenderizing method was used.

Health Canada refused to comment on the findings, but stated via email that “Health Canada plans to begin consulting with Canadians in the coming months”, and that “new labeling requirements would be initiated.”

As for chicken, eating chicken contaminated with salmonella can make you very sick. Sometimes for months as new strains become resistant to antibiotics. The overuse of antibiotics on chickens to keep them healthy and make them grow bigger have made them resistant to salmonella super bugs. Jerry Wright, the head of infectious disease research at McMaster University became deathly sick for over a month after eating chicken infected with one of these salmonella super bugs. You can actually see the bacteria that was inside him in the video below.

When preparing chicken, you must be very careful of cross-contamination to make sure the bacteria isn’t transferred to anything else in your kitchen during preparation. Preparation tools that are not properly washed after use like towels, bowls, and even your hands can remain covered in salmonella super bug bacteria long after you thought you had cleaned them.

Canadian farmers claim to be doing their best to “control, monitor, and reduce antimicrobial use” in chicken farming. Apparently these actions are not being practiced as well as they could be.

The last category on our list…. Deli meat!!  Many people have begun looking for and buying “Organic” deli meats which claim to contain less or no nitrites. Nitrites have been found to cause cancer. As it turns out, many pre-packaged deli meats that claim to be “Preservative Free”, are anything but. One package distinctly labeled “Preservative Free” had Cultured Celery Extract listed in the ingredients. Cultured Celery Extract is simply a nitrite by another name. Just another example of food fraud.

The conclusion: All packaged deli meats contain preservatives. Some are just more honest in their labeling than others. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency has stated they are “reviewing the use of certain claims” on deli meats made with the “Cultured Celery” ingredient.

What this should teach you about the food you buy…


  • Watch out for tricky labels on supermarket meat and fish.
  • Cook chicken thoroughly and clean up well after preparation to avoid the spread of bacterial bugs such as salmonella.
  • Ask if the beef you’re buying has been tenderized. If so, cook it at least medium-well.

Always go food shopping armed with the knowledge to survive your next meal. Supermarket meat and fish may not always be what it says it is. Read the fine print and ingredients. An educated shopper is a smart shopper.

Watch the video below for full coverage.

Ever wonder just how fresh those marinated meats and fish are in your supermarket? Ever wonder about those “Best Before” dates in general? Visit our related story here to find out.