McDonald's Reels in a Big One with Sustainable Fish at All US Locations

Categories: Food News

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Scott Reitz
There's something fishy going down under the golden arches. In February McDonald's will officially launch a new item on the Dollar Menu, Fish McBites, which will pair nicely with the Filet-O-Fish sandwich. In both items, the catch-of-the-day is always wild-caught Alaskan pollock.

With 14,000 stores across the U.S., that's a lot of fish.

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- Scott Reitz Dabbles in Fish McBites

Subsequently, how McDonald's decides to obtain this protein certainly has a big impact on the conditions and sustainability of wild-capture fisheries.

Today McDonald's announced they will serve only Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certified sustainable fish at all U.S. locations, which will be noted with a small blue sticker on the packaging.

MSC certification ensures that an objective third-party has assessed the fishery using scientific evidence, transparency in the fishery operations and "standards based on the sustainability of target species, ecosystems and management practices."

It also guarantees traceability, which allows for tracking the fish all the way back through the supply chain to the fishery.

Danielle Nierenberg of the recently created FoodTank, a think tank dedicated to offering solutions and environmentally sustainable ways of alleviating hunger, obesity and poverty (and how they are all connected), sees it as a positive step forward.

"Whatever they do will set the standard for other fast food and restaurant chains," said Nierenberg. "And these efforts are more important than ever. Global fish production is at an all time high worldwide. According to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization, 53 percent of fisheries are considered fully exploited. As a result, fishers as well the food industry will need to make ecological restoration as much a goal as meeting the growing demand for seafood."

While Fish McBites hopefully aren't on your menu many nights of the week, and most diners won't even notice the blue MSC sticker on the packaging, when McDonald's reels one in everyone else takes note. Pollock, you're on notice.

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My Voice Nation Help

deep fried cow turds are sustainble too.

ScottsMerkin topcommenter

I excite to follow this!   And good on McD's by the time my kid is old enough to eat this crap, at least they will have MSC fish


@ScottsMerkin I excite as well. But, let's ponder this. Should fish cost a dollar? I mean, I praise them for this step. Just can't help but tie cheap food to bad food. 


@danielslauren @ScottsMerkin Not necessarily all cheap food is bad food, but if it's a buck, what negative externalities are being generated that we all end up paying for down the line? This move to MSC at least means a couple of issues (overfishing, bycatch) are hopefully being addressed. Doesn't fix the big ones, of course, like paying unskilled labor so little that they need food stamps, but one step at a time.

ScottsMerkin topcommenter

@danielslauren again by the time my kid is old enough to eat this, they wont cost a dollar, prolly more like 2 with inflation lol.  I surmise you are correct, cheap food is bad food but how cheap is cheap?  I like Herrera's lunch, I consider it cheap, but it is good.  what does the cheap bastard have to say about this

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