Investigation finds contract caterers serving unsustainable 'red rated' fish

19/12/2017 - 09:48
A number of contract catering companies are selling endangered and/or irresponsibly sourced ‘red rated’ fish, according to a British seafood campaign group.

An investigation from Sustainable Fish Cities found a ‘wide variation’ in how well caterers are checking, sourcing and communicating sustainable fish.

Fish with a red rating are considered by the Marine Conservation Society (MCS) to be either endangered, or caught or farmed using very destructive methods.

As a result of its findings, the campaign group has called on all caterers to commit to and publish a robust sustainable fish policy. Aramark is the first caterer to pledge its commitment.

Ruth Westcott, campaign coordinator for Sustainable Fish Cities, said “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 in to 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”.

The investigation found that five companies had "sound" sustainable fish policies in place. These were ready-meal supplier Apetito, BaxterStorey-owner Westbury Street Holdings, Mitie, Delaware North and Elior.

The report said the five had "provided evidence that they have conducted full audits of their fish purchases, removed fish considered ‘fish to avoid’ by the MCS and taken steps to minimise the number of fish considered only ok to eat occasionally and to serve more fish with a sustainability certification or considered ‘fish to eat’".

Westcott added: “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.

“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.”

The investigation involved nine caterers filling out an online questionnaire to explain and provide evidence for their action on sustainable fish.

The scores, marked out of 100%, were based on how well caters demonstrated they gather information, avoid the worst, promote the best, improve the rest, publish a fish policy, communicate and influence wider progress on sustainable fish.

Apetito was given the top score of 75% while Westbury Street Holdings scored 67%.

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 recognised as one of the top performing organisations within our sector.

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

The table placed ISS last with a score of 12% based on publically-available information as the compandy did not complete a survey.

CH&CO was given a score of 45%, Sodexo 55% and Compass Group UK & Ireland 61%.

The full table with a breakdown on the scoring is available on the Sustainable Fish Cities 'Fishy Business' report along with analysis on the findings. 

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