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New Fish Finger Guide Reveals That Some Brands are More Sustainable Than Fresh Fish

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The Marine Conservation Society (MCS) has found that 85 per cent of the fish in the fish finger brands it investigated came from green rated ‘Best Choice’ fish, according to the sustainability ratings of the charity's Good Fish Guide.

MCS investigated the ingredients contained within 48 retail own-brand and branded fish fingers and found that the majority of the fish contained within the product came from sustainable sources. 

Unlike unprocessed seafood – fish that isn’t canned, mixed or breaded - there is no legal requirement for brands and retailers to put details of the origins of the fish used in processed seafood on the pack. As a result, the lack of clear labelling means it is difficult for consumers to know, at a glance, where the fish in their fingers actually comes from. 

As a result, MCS has launched a new Good Fish Finger Guide, aiming to raise awareness of the origins and sustainability of fish fingers and better engage consumers to follow its wider seafood advice. 

MCS Sustainable Seafood Advocate, Rajina Gurung, who compiled the guide, says that in the absence of a credible ecolabel like the Marine Stewardship Council tick on the pack, it’s hard for consumers to make informed choices. 'Consumers may not be aware that the majority of fish in retail own-brand and branded fish fingers actually comes from sustainable sources,' she said. 'Some saver brands even turned out to be the most sustainable, showing that you do not have to pay a fortune for sustainability. The 48 fish fingers we investigated contained just four different species - Atlantic cod, Pacific cod, Alaska pollock and haddock - which might come as quite a surprise to many consumers who see fish fingers as a mix of unspecified species in breadcrumbs... even barely fish at all!'

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Fish finger packet labelling statistics (Source: MCSUK Good Fish Finger Guide)

 According to the MCS, 23 per cent of the fish fingers it investigated lacked any kind of ecolabel, sustainability information or enough detail about how and where the fish were caught, and 40  per cent did not have a credible ecolabel.

Just 19 per cent of fish finger packs were found to have enough detailed information on the pack for consumers to know how and where the fish was caught.

MCS targeted the major retailer own brand and branded fish fingers and did an online and in-store review of the fish fingers that were available. 'By and large, most of the supermarkets and brands we were in contact with were forthcoming in providing the information regarding the origins of the fish within their fish fingers,' said Rajina Gurung. 'We're now considering focusing on other processed products that are available through retail or food service outlets.'

The Top 13 Best Choice Green Rated (using the MCS Good Fish Guide) fish fingers (rated 1 for most sustainable) are:

  • Asda smart price fish fingers
  • Asda omega-3 fish fingers
  • Co-op omega-3 fish fingers
  • Iceland breaded fish fingers
  • Marks & Spencer gluten-free cod fish fingers
  • Morrisons omega-3 fish fingers
  • Morrisons savers fish fingers
  • Sainsbury’s cod fillet fish fingers
  • Sainsbury’s 'deliciously free from' cod fish fingers
  • Tesco omega-3 fish fingers
  • Waitrose essential cod fish fingers
  • Waitrose essential chunky cod fillet fingers in breadcrumbs
  • Young’s omega-3 fish fingers

MCS 5-Step Seafood Ratings At A Glance:
  1. Dark Green Best choice – the most sustainably-caught or farmed fish
  2. Light Green  Good choice – indicates sustainably-caught or responsibly farmed fish
  3. Yellow  Okay –  indicates fish which are an Okay choice, but require some improvements
  4. Orange Requires improvements – indicates fish which are some way from being sustainably caught or farmed and require significant improvements. We recommend that you seek alternatives where you can.
  5. Red  Fish to avoid – Indicates fish from the most unsustainable fisheries or farming systems. We recommend avoiding these fish (Or encourage businesses to establish a credible improvement project).

 

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