Eating at fast-food restaurants can be quite a gamble. As the UK’s recent horse-meat burger scandal (and before that, Taco Bell) so poignantly reminds us, if it’s coming at you through a drive-thru window, the ingredients are never guaranteed.
The scant few times I was allowed to eat fast-food as a child, beef was strictly forbidden. The fish sandwich was the only item my mom deemed edible. Still, I remember looking at that square of nondescript fish and wondering how much of it actually came from a finned creature of the sea. Although the fishiness may have been questionable back in the ’80s, current fish sandwich aficionados will no longer have reason to doubt.
McDonald’s recently announced that it will become the first national restaurant chain to serve fish bearing the Marine Stewardship Council eco-label at all of its US locations. Oh, it’s Alaska Pollock in case you wanted to know. Fish sold at European franchises already bears the MSC emblem. In fact, the company actually certified its fish in 2005, but has since audited its supply chain to ensure the fish’s sustainability and traceability, according to the Chicago Tribune.
MSC certification indicates that over 14,000 McDonald’s restaurants across the US have met the MSC Chain of Custody standard for traceability, which is the ability to track the fish all the way back through the supply chain to the fishery.
As one of the largest single buyers of fish in the country, this news as good for the ocean as it is for the stomachs of McDonald’s customers.
- First, the MSC standard applies to wild-capture fisheries only, so the Filet-O-Fish is guaranteed to be free from farmed fish, which are bad for the environment and kind of gross when you think about how they’re raised.
- Second, MSC-certified fisheries must operate so that fishing can continue indefinitely, which means no overfishing or exploitation of endangered species.
- Third, certified fishing operations must be managed in a way that maintains the structure, productivity, function and diversity of the ecosystem on which the fishery depends, which means taking care not to snag dolphins or turtles on fishing lines and changing how fish trimmings are discarded so that seabirds are not drawn towards hazardous fishing gear.
According to Dan Gorsky, McDonald’s senior vice president of U.S. supply chain and sustainability, the partnership with MSC is “a critical part” of the company’s journey to advance positive environmental and economic practices in its supply chain.
Of course, the “realness” of the fish doesn’t mean the Filet-O-Fish is good for you. It’s still deep fried, slathered in mayonnaise, and smashed between two high-fructose-syrup riddled buns. But we’re sure McDonald’s is working hard on that problem, too.
Image via snowpea&bokchoi/Flickr