Sustain probe reveals “red-rated” fish on the menu at UK restaurants

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18 Dec 2017 --- Sustainable Fish Cities is calling for all contract catering companies to commit to and publish a robust sustainable fish buying policy after its investigation found wide variations in how well contract catering companies are checking, sourcing, and communicating sustainable fish, with red-rated species being sold by some caterers.

Fish with a red rating is considered by the Marine Conservation Society to be either endangered or caught or farmed using very destructive methods.

Roughly one in six meals eaten out of the home in the UK – which amounts to more than 3.5 million per day – are served by contract caterers in hospitals, schools and colleges, workplaces, sports stadia, prisons and visitor attractions.

Ruth Westcott, Campaign coordinator for Sustainable Fish Cities says: “It is completely unacceptable that caterers in the UK have been found to be serving unsustainable fish, or haven’t come clean on the sources of the fish they buy. Twelve million people have tuned into Blue Planet 2 to witness the beautiful abundance of life in our oceans and would be very concerned about being served red-rated fish in their workplace.”

Sustainable fish policies
Five companies were found to have sound sustainable fish policies in place; ready-meal supplier Apetito, Westbury Street Holdings, Mitie, Delaware North and Elior. 

All provided evidence that they have conducted full audits of their fish purchases, removed fish considered “fish to avoid” by the Marine Conservation Society and taken steps to minimize the number of fish considered only “okay” to eat occasionally and to serve more fish with a sustainability certification or considered “fish to eat.”

As part of this investigation, caterer Aramark became signatories of the Sustainable Fish Cities pledge, making public their commitment to put in place a verifiably sustainable fish policy and celebrate it with customers across over 300 sites in the UK. 

As part of this, they will roll out MSC certification across their UK outlets, including hospitals, education sites, workplaces and catering for defense services.

“Some caterers are doing very well indeed – congratulations to the companies that came in the top five in the league table and particularly to Aramark for taking the Sustainable Fish Cities pledge,” adds Westcott.

“Well done also to all the companies that supplied information for our investigation. Being open about what fish is being bought is essential to assuring customers that they are behaving responsibly regarding our oceans.”

Mike Hanson, Head of Sustainable Business at BaxterStorey, said: “We are passionate about promoting sustainable practices across all areas of our business, and are delighted to have been recognized as one of the top performing organizations within our sector.”

“We take training extremely seriously and as part of our unique Chef Academy program, colleagues are educated on the importance of sustainability – something that helped us achieve such a high ranking on the league table.”

According to Sustain, ISS Catering did not complete a survey in response to its requests, so their scores were determined using publicly-available information.

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