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Why Squid Doesn't Taste Like Squid?


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What can you say when regulations and labelling laws don't have enough bite to scare people off doing these things.

Almost no squid in Kalamari

September 18, 2008 - 12:02PM

CANBERRA - A seafood manufacturer will rename a product to avoid misleading consumers about its contents, the consumer watchdog says.

Austrimi Seafoods Pty Ltd will drop the name Kalamari (Kalamari) crumbed seafood rings, to avoid giving buyers the impression that the product mainly contains calamari rings.

Only four per cent of the product contained squid according to the ingredients list, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission said.

The company agreed to change the packaging and not use the current name or pictures that suggest the product contained a particular seafood ingredient.

"Companies need to carefully consider how consumers might view both representations on packaging and the overall impression created by the branding and packaging of their products," ACCC chairman Graeme Samuel said in a statement.


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So what is the 96% I have been eating?

Unfortunately they have been misleading the consumers for 13 years now.

Have the ACCC just woken up from more than a decade of slumber??

MARK COLVIN: When is a calamari ring not a calamari ring?

The ACCC, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission says the answer is when calamari makes up just a few per cent of the product.

The ACCC has asked the seafood company Austrimi to rename its product because the Commission found that it contained just four per cent squid.

The company has agreed to rename the produce Kal-rings.

The ACCC says the potentially deceptive labelling of products is all too common, and it's picking up many similar cases.

Barbara Miller has our report:

BARBARA MILLER: In the frozen food section of the supermarket you see a box bearing the words Kalamari in large print.

A picture of crumbed rings covers about three-quarters of the front of the package of the Austrimi Seafood's product.

The ingredients list clearly states though that the product only contains four per cent squid.

The chairman of the ACCC Graeme Samuel says that's not good enough.

GRAEME SAMUEL: When you put out a product that is entitled Kalamari, spelt with a K admittedly instead of a C, but Kalamari crumbed seafood rings, that gives a very clear impression to the average consumer that this is truly 100 per cent calamari rings that is squid rings.

Now when in fact the product is only four per cent squid and the rest of it is other fish products and other products altogether, it is clear in our view that consumers have the great propensity to be misled or deceived.

BARBARA MILLER: I've purchased a product with a very similar name to the one which is subject to the ACCC action; these are called crumbed calamari rings. I have 400 grams here in this packet and it cost $5.49. The main ingredient here is squid and there's 42 per cent squid in this product, so ten times as much as was the case in the product which has been asked to change its name.

So this is a 400 gram package.

FEMALE CUSTOMER: So I would hope there's 400 grams of calamari in it.

Would you check it before buying it?

FEMALE CUSTOMER: No. How would I check it?

2ND FEMALE CUSTOMER: That'd have to be a trick question wouldn't it?

I'm assuming probably 90 per cent of it would be.

BARBARA MILLER: So what happened was a product with the same name was found to only have four per cent calamari; a different brand I should add.

MALE CUSTOMER: I'd be appalled. I think that's disgraceful. If I buy calamari rings I expect the bulk of it to be calamari.

BARBARA MILLER: That product's now been asked to change its name to Kal-rings.

MALE CUSTOMER: I wouldn't be happy with Kal-rings, I think I wouldn't be sure what it is and if does imply calamari to anybody it would be misleading.

BARBARA MILLER: Austrimi Seafoods has accepted the ACCC's finding that its product packaging was potentially misleading.

And on a scratchy line from a factory in Vietnam, Austrimi's managing director Shinji Narasaki told me the packets of the seafood rings had already been re-labelled.

SHINJI NARASAKI: We've been working with the ACCC following their recommendations.

BARBARA MILLER: Has Austrimi taken action to change the name on the product?

SHINJI NARASAKI: We have already changed our packaging, okay, almost four weeks ago now.

BARBARA MILLER: And how long have you been selling the product Kalamari in Australia?


BARBARA MILLER: The ACCC chairman Graeme Samuel says cases such as the calamari rings, which weren't quite as the packet suggested, are far too common.

GRAEME SAMUEL: It's not isolated unfortunately. We're picking up too often incorrect labelling or labelling that is potentially deceptive. We've had some significant issues with fruit juice manufacturers; we've had issues with other product labelling as to the source of the product, whether it's produced in Australia or produced overseas.

And then most recently we're having more significant issues with what we call green-washing or green-labelling; where products are being claimed to environmentally sustainable or environmentally advantageous, when in truth they're not.

BARBARA MILLER: And if you're wondering just what the main seafood is in Kal-rings, formerly known as Kalamari, it's surimi.

The Austrimi website explains:

READER READING FROM AUSTRIMI WEBSITE: First the fish is headed gutted and washed. A meat separator removes the fish flesh from bone and skin. From here the fish flesh is put through a series of washing and then drained in rotary screens, where impurities such as blood and excess oil are discharged…

BARBARA MILLER: And so it goes on. Perhaps on that front though ignorance was better after all.

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