McDonald's Fish McBites and Filet-O-Fish get 'sustainable' label

McDonald's fish in the chain's Filet-O-Fish sandwiches will carry a 'sustainable' rating from the Marine Stewardship Council. The McDonald's fish will be the first from a national chain to carry the rating, according to McDonald's. 

Giampiero Sposito/Reuters/File
A McDonald's sign is pictured in Rome earlier this month. McDonald's fish will carry a "sustainable" label, the fast food giant announced.

McDonald's says it will be the first national restaurant chain to carry a label from a group that certifies sustainable fishing practices.

The blue "ecolabel" from the Marine Stewardship Council certifies that the Alaskan Pollock used in McDonald's Filet-O-Fish sandwiches come from suppliers with sustainable fishing practices.

Major retail chains including Wal-Mart and Whole Foods already use the council's label. The nonprofit group is paid a royalty fee from companies that use its label. For McDonald's, that means the fee would be based on sales of its fish offerings, such as the Filet-O-Fish and the Fish McBites that will be launched as a limited-time offer next month.

The Marine Stewardship Council, which has its U.S. headquarters in Seattle and international base in London, isn't the only group that offers consumer labeling for seafood. Last year, for example, Whole Foods also stopped carrying wild-caught seafood that's "red-rated," which indicates it's either overfished or caught in a way that harms other species.

The move reflects the growing concerns among consumers about the sources of their seafood. Major supermarket chains, including BJ's Wholesale Club, have also moved recently to try to make their seafood selections more sustainable.

The Marine Stewardship Council has about 300 fisheries in its program, representing between 12 to 14 percent of the world's fisheries, said Kerry Coughlin, the group's regional director for the Americas. Fisheries can go through a confidential pre-assessment phase to get guidance on whether they're ready for certification. Coughlin said about 30 to 40 percent of fisheries aren't ready when they start the pre-assessment phase, but that more than 90 percent obtain certification after beginning the full, official assessment process.

McDonald's Corp. gets all its fish in the U.S. from a single Alaskan Pollock fishery, Coughlin said. The chain's restaurants in Europe already use the council's label.

A spokeswoman for McDonald's, Christina Tyler, said the all U.S. stores should have the labeling by early February. McDonald'swill promote the certification on packaging for other products, including Happy Meals and drinks.

The company, based in Oak Brook, Ill., says it stopped using Eastern Baltic Cod in the early 1990s because of sustainability concerns. Since 2007, Tyler said the company has sourced Alaskan Pollock and New Zealand Hoki exclusively from fisheries with the Marine Stewardship Council's label. Now the chain uses only Alaskan Pollock for its fish items in the U.S.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.