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Fish authentication is a major concern not only for the prevention of commercial fraud, but also for the assessment of safety risks deriving from the undeclared introduction of potentially dangerous toxic or allergenic substances or environmentally damaging fish where endangered species are involved. Moreover, food authentication might affect the diet of certain groups of consumers, such as followers of religious practices. Considering the authentication of fish products is one of the key issues in food safety, quality and sustainability, the aim of this work was to investigate the prevalence of mislabelling in sole (Solea solea), plaice (Pleuronectes platessa), Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar), and hake (Merluccius merluccius) fillets from markets and supermarkets located in Apulia (Southern Italy) using DNA barcoding. The results of the molecular investigations reveal that 42/98 (42.8%) fillet samples were not correctly labelled. In particular, 12/27 (44.4%) fillets of sole (Solea solea) were identified as belonging to Solea senegalensis. In addition, 13/28 (46.4%) plaice (Pleuronectes platessa) samples were identified as Pangasius hypophtalmus. All Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) samples were correctly labelled. Post-sequencing data analysis revealed that 17/30 (56.6%) hake fillets (Merluccius merluccius) were not correctly labelled, of which 8/30 samples identified as Merluccius hubbsi, 5/30 samples as Merluccius products and 4/30 as Merluccius capensis. The study reveals a high occurrence of species mislabelling in the prepared fish fillet products, further evidence of the need for increased traceability and assessment of the authenticity of food products.
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