There's something fishy going down under the golden arches. In February McDonald's will officially launch a new item on the Dollar Menu, Fish McBites, which will pair nicely with the Filet-O-Fish sandwich. In both items, the catch-of-the-day is always wild-caught Alaskan pollock.
With 14,000 stores across the U.S., that's a lot of fish.
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Subsequently, how McDonald's decides to obtain this protein certainly has a big impact on the conditions and sustainability of wild-capture fisheries.
Today McDonald's announced they will serve only Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certified sustainable fish at all U.S. locations, which will be noted with a small blue sticker on the packaging.
MSC certification ensures that an objective third-party has assessed the fishery using scientific evidence, transparency in the fishery operations and "standards based on the sustainability of target species, ecosystems and management practices."
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It also guarantees traceability, which allows for tracking the fish all the way back through the supply chain to the fishery.
Danielle Nierenberg of the recently created FoodTank, a think tank dedicated to offering solutions and environmentally sustainable ways of alleviating hunger, obesity and poverty (and how they are all connected), sees it as a positive step forward.
"Whatever they do will set the standard for other fast food and restaurant chains," said Nierenberg. "And these efforts are more important than ever. Global fish production is at an all time high worldwide. According to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization, 53 percent of fisheries are considered fully exploited. As a result, fishers as well the food industry will need to make ecological restoration as much a goal as meeting the growing demand for seafood."
While Fish McBites hopefully aren't on your menu many nights of the week, and most diners won't even notice the blue MSC sticker on the packaging, when McDonald's reels one in everyone else takes note. Pollock, you're on notice.