Ethical Performance
inside intelligence for responsible business


Labelling of fish products is ‘confusing’

June 2011

Fish labelling in UK supermarkets is failing to help consumers to make sustainable choices, the Marine Conservation Society (MCS) has said, while introducing its own online seafood advice guide.

The UK charity considers advice in shops is ‘poor and confusing’, and says retailers must do more to protect dwindling stocks by informing customers of endangered fish and unethical products.

The MCS says it is ‘virtually impossible to tell precisely where most fish and fish products have been caught’, and proposes a traffic lights system, similar to that for nutritional information, to identify the least and most sustainable fish products.

It says UK supermarkets should go beyond European Union legislation, which requires only the method and area of production to be detailed, to
give much more specific information, given the fisheries’ varying sustainability credentials.

The organization advises: ‘If supermarkets could get their produce from well-managed fisheries and label it as such, it opens up new opportunities for the public and fishermen. It’s a win-win.’

The British Retail Consortium, however, said retailers already ‘source sustainable produce and give consumers as much information as possible’.

Andrew Opie, the consortium’s food director, said: ‘Supermarket customers are already told the species of fish they’re buying, how it was caught and the region it came from – much more information than is provided by most of the catering industry, for example.’

Marine Conservation Society | UK & NI Ireland | Food Production

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