Pret (and McDonald’s!) pass the sustainable fish sandwich test
An estimated 17,400 tonnes of fish – mostly tuna and prawns – is eaten each year in sandwiches.
Over half a million people have signed up to chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s Fish Fight campaign, so many of us are probably changing our fish buying habits. But a secret shopper survey by ethical food magazine The Jellied Eel, has revealed that even grabbing a humble lunchtime sandwich is an ethical minefield.
Their survey showed that most of our favourite lunchtime haunts provide us with no information about the source or catch method of the fish they are serving.
Even those shops that do provide some labelling tend to limit them to a ‘dolphin friendly’ claim on tuna products. That might be good news for dolphins, but the tuna may still be from overexploited stocks or been caught using methods that damage the marine environment.
This simple question put to high-street retailers about the origin of their fish produced some fairly hilarious responses:
Q: Can you tell me where our fish comes from?
Starbucks: “It comes from a factory”
Upper Crust: “It comes in a tin”
Camden Food Co: “It comes from Euston”
Upmarket boulangerie Paul: “From France – it comes in a vacuum pack and we mix it with mayonnaise”
High street pharmacy Boots: “The sandwiches just come here and we put them on the shelves”
High street sandwich shop Subway: “It comes from a packet. The packet’s from the Netherlands”
But it’s not all bad news. A handful of companies are selling sustainable fish and telling customers about it. Pret a Manger clearly takes the issue seriously and is helping consumers by using prominent, and often built-in-to-the-name, information about the source and method of production of the fish on every sandwich shelf label.
The Co-operative, Marks & Spencer and Sainsbury’s were also good performers.
The McDonald’s approach was also notable – details on its Filet-o-Fish were lacking in store, but the source and sustainability certification details are clearly displayed on the website.
“Most of us stop off for a sandwich at some point during the week, and some of us do so every day,” said Kath Dalmeny, of Sustain, who coordinates the Sustainable Fish City campaign. “Our lunchtime choices could mean the difference between some fish species continuing to provide us with abundant food, or those fish species disappearing completely.”
The Sustainable Fish City campaign is asking businesses to specify sustainable fish in their contracts and menus and to promote sustainable fish to their customers.
Photo credit – thanks to FreeCat on Flickr
Find out more:
Read our undercover supermarket sweep.
Get involved by telling restaurants, sandwich shops and other food businesses about the campaign and suggest they join in.
Check out Sustainable Fish City
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