No need to feel guilty when you snack on “junk food” like fish sticks – at least, not on the environmental front. They’re surprisingly sustainable, according to a new study by the Marine Conservation Society.
The society has released a “Good Fish Finger Guide” on its website to help people choose snacks with the lowest negative impact on marine life.
“Consumers may not be aware that the majority of fish in retail own brand and branded fish fingers actually comes from sustainable sources,” said Rajina Gurung, a sustainable seafood advocate with MCS. “Some saver brands even turned out to be the most sustainable, showing that you do not have to pay a fortune for sustainability.”
Gurung and colleagues analyzed 48 different brands of fish sticks – called fish fingers in the UK – to determine what kinds of fish they use and where they get their supplies.
They found that the fish sticks contained one or more of just four species: Atlantic cod, Pacific cod, haddock and Alaska pollock. The majority got their fish ingredients from sustainable sources, the study found.
So why don’t more customers know that? The problem is one of labeling, Gurung said.
Forty percent of the fish sticks brands didn’t have a credible eco-label, and only 19 percent included enough details for buyers to know where and how their fish ingredients were caught. But with a little digging, it wasn’t hard for Gurung and her team to find out more about their fish supplies.
“By and large most of the supermarkets and brands we were in contact with were forthcoming with providing the information regarding the origins of the fish within their fish fingers. We’re now considering focusing on other processed products that are available through retail or food service outlets,” she said.