Many university caterers are looking to serve certified sustainable fish to boost their green credentials as well as supporting sustainable fisheries to help protect the world’s fish stocks. A quarter of the world’s fish stocks are overfished or depleted and a further half are being fished as hard as they can be, so it’s important for university caterers know there is a way to be sure they are putting sustainable seafood on their menu. It is vital to demonstrate support for healthy oceans – something that students are increasingly asking for.
The MSC is the leading standard for sustainable seafood. It provides an independently audited system to achieve MSC certification, which is awarded to fisheries that have met strict standards for sustainability. To ensure that the MSC ecolabel, (the mark of MSC certified sustainable seafood) comes with a solid assurance of traceability, all caterers must have MSC ‘Chain of Custody’ certification. This permits use of the ecolabel on menus and displays, so that universities can show that they are serving MSC certified fish, and involves maintaining specific traceability records and systems and also passing an audit.
The University Caterers Organisation, TUCO, teamed up with the Marine Stewardship Council in July 2013 to launch a fast-track way to put MSC certified fish on their members’ menus. The new system will make MSC certification simpler, quicker and less expensive for members, many of whom want to serve fish that is demonstrably sustainable.
By joining the group, university caterers show their support for sustainable fisheries and help create a wave of change in sustainable fishing. Group members receive ready-made documents and materials needed for the MSC’s Chain of Custody traceability certification – essential for those wanting to display the ecolabel on their menus.
Managing director of TUCO, Julie Barker explained: “TUCO has always been about using the size of our joint membership to provide benefits to caterers and when we discovered that we could make MSC certification more accessible for universities by forming a large group, we knew it would be something that would be of real value to them.
“As sustainable sourcing of all ingredients, particularly fish, is such a key issue for the foodservice industry, we felt this was a strategically important move for our members, and set up a working party led and coordinated by our contracts officer, Jane Eve.”
The University of Reading and Harper Adams University achieved MSC certification by joining the TUCO Group in its pilot phase. Both were impressed by the new system that quickly earned them MSC certification and the ability to put the MSC ecolabel on menus.
Since the new TUCO/MSC fast track certification scheme was introduced Manchester University has gained MSC certification, with another large University caterer almost certified and several others going through this process.
The fast track system offers TUCO members the opportunity to join an MSC Certification Group, which means that:
- The documents and materials required for Chain of Custody are provided ready-made for caterers.
- The costs are much reduced.
This means with this fast track system, universities could use the MSC ecolabel on menus in the space of a few weeks.