McDonald's Will Only Serve MSC-Approved Sustainable Fish

Feb 01, 2013 04:41 PM EST

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(Photo : McDonald's)

Two years ago, McDonald's made a commitment to only serve seafood approved by the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) in their European Union locations. The effort has been successful enough that the fast food chain has also decided to bring this earth-friendly certification to its American locations.

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In the U.S., McDonald's seafood is mainly limited to its Filet-O-Fish sandwich, although a new Fish McBites product will be launched in February. However, McDonald's is large enough to be one of the biggest buyers of fish in the country, and the impact of its decision will be felt in the fishing industry.

Certification Standards, Criticism

MSC certifies fisheries based on sustainability. The council examines whether the fishermen are overfishing and monitors their environmental impact. Fisheries are also assessed on their management systems to ensure that these best practices for sustainability are consistently applied.

Some have criticized the MSC label for not having stringent enough policies. However, many agree that the formation of the council is a step in the right direction. The lack of oversight over fisheries in the past has led to increasing danger of depletion of fish stock and possible extinction of some important species of fish.

The council also receives a 0.5 percent licensing fee on the wholesale fish when partners use its label on products. Given that McDonald's sales of Filet-O-Fish sandwiches topped 200 million in the U.S. last year, the partnership gives MSC plenty to celebrate.

Sustainability Trend

McDonald's has striven for an environmentally sound corporate image. The sustainable fish initiative is one of several that it pursues on its website. The chain has apparently been sourcing all of its fish worldwide from sustainable fisheries, but has decided to submit to MSC certification for transparency and oversight.

World Wildlife Fund (WWF) vice president Bill Fox commended McDonald's decision for demonstrating "leadership in feeding a growing population while helping to maintain healthy fisheries."

Other groups that sell MSC-certified products include Kroger, Costco, Supervalu and Wal-Mart.



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