Beginning in October, McDonald’s iconic Filet-O-Fish sandwich will bear the Marine Stewardship Council eco-label at restaurants across Europe, ensuring that the whitefish in the sandwich originated from a sustainable, well-managed fishery.

The MSC made the announcement on Wednesday, World Oceans Day, stating that 7,000 McDonald’s restaurants across 39 European countries are in the process of achieving chain-of-custody certification.

The MSC eco-label will start appearing on Filet-O-Fish packaging in October. For many of the 39 European countries in which McDonald’s is located, this is the first time an MSC-certified product will be available in a foodservice operation.

Last year, the fast-food giant sold approximately 100 million Filet-O-Fish sandwiches across Europe.

Steve Easterbrook, president of McDonald’s Europe, called the achievement a “milestone” in the company’s long-term commitment to work with suppliers to improve sustainable fishing practices worldwide.

“We chose the MSC certification as the most robust and recognizable independent accreditation of our own sustainable fisheries standard,” he said.

Added Rupert Howes, CEO of the London-based MSC: This is a “tremendous testament to the ability of our industry leaders to transform the seafood market and help drive changes on the water. This is a fantastic achievement and we hope that others will follow their lead.”

The MSC did not specify in its press release which species is used in the Filet-O-Fish. McDonald’s sources much of its whitefish for the sandwich from Alaska’s Bering Sea pollock fishery, which was certified as sustainable and well-managed in February 2005 and re-certified in December 2010.

The Filet-O-Fish was created by Lou Groen, a McDonald’s franchisee in Cincinnati, Ohio, in 1962. It was the first addition to McDonald’s original menu. (Click here to read a one-on-one interview with Groen that appeared in the April 2007 issue of SeaFood Business magazine.)


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