Catering giant http://www.msc.org/" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer">Sodexo](http://www.sodexo.com/) has pulled off an industry first by achieving [Marine Stewardship Council(MSC) certification at each of its UK outlets serving fish.
The move means that more than one million people will be offered MSC-certified fish in 929 sites across the caterer's business and industry, education, healthcare and defence sectors. Sodexo serves 123 tonnes of wild-caught MSC fish every year.
Hannah Arcaro, UK food service manager at the MSC, described Sodexo's achievement as "nothing less than amazing". She added: "Serving MSC-certified sustainable fish at nearly a thousand sites will introduce a huge cross-section of British consumers to the issues around overfishing and how they can be part of the solution.
"By helping to reward the certified fisheries around the world, who have proved that they are fishing sustainably, Sodexo and its customers will be helping to transform the seafood market to a sustainable basis."
Certification of all Sodexo's restaurants and cafés was an ambitious target that the company set itself as part of its sustainability strategy, the Better Tomorrow Plan. With the first Sodexo site to be accredited in January 2009, the caterer has reached its goal in less than two years. Sodexo was also the first food service business to achieve MSC certification across all of its education sites in 2009.
Michelle Hanson, Sodexo commercial director, explained the importance of the move for the company. "Like most people, we were alarmed to hear about declining fish stocks," she said. "Traceability of our fish from boat to plate has always been very important to us.
"With the MSC Chain of Custody certification, we have complete assurance that every step of the supply chain has been certified to ensure that we know that every piece of fish that we serve comes from a well-managed fishery."
HOW TO ACHIEVE MSC CHAIN OF CUSTODY CERTIFICATION
â- Contract an independent assessment firm to carry out a Chain of Custody audit, payable by operator.
â- Estimated costs are: £500-£1,000 for an independent restaurant; £10,000 for a medium sized group (eg, 1,000 very similar sites and a very tightly controlled supply chain such as an Local Education Authority); £20,000-£30,000 for a large, complicated group.
â- Ensure staff understand the processes of full traceability: record incoming stock; store and prep distinctly from uncertified stock; record sales and wastage.
â- Chain of Custody Certification lasts three years with interim surveillance audits carried out at intervals, frequency dependent on risk.
HOW CONTRACT CATERERS COMPARE
â- Compass Group was the first European caterer to gain MSC Chain of Custody certification for its head office in 2008. It has since achieved MSC certification at 42 sites in total, including 35 schools, and last year it announced its decision to ban 69 endangered fish species from its menus. Jane Wakeling, the caterer's regional sourcing manager, said that sustainable seafood was a fundamental part of Compass's corporate responsibility framework.
â- Aramark has opted for a different approach. While it has two contracts working towards accreditation at present, its primary concern is buying fish responsibly. Val Carter, CR and operational training director, said: "Ensuring we buy sustainable fish is important to us - more so than it being specifically MSC. As such we do not supply any units fish on the Marine Conservation Society's fish to avoid list."
â- Elior considers full traceability of its fish products extremely important. Sandy Anderson, fresh food buyer, said the company was seeing sales grow but the cost premium means it didn't fit all sectors, particularly those with tight budgets. While Elior currently has no certified sites, it is investigating the benefits.
â- BaxterStorey sales director Simon Esner said that while very few clients specifically demanded MSC, many wanted the caterer's full approach to sustainability and CSR. Two of its contracts, Defra and The DECC (Department for Energy and Climate Change) are certified at present, while at its sister education business, Caterlink, the LEA contracts in Camden and Islington are accredited (108 schools).
INDEPENDENT CHAIN OF CUSTODY ASSESSORS
Food Certification International
MacAlister Elliott & Partners
Global Trust Certifications
Bureau Veritas Certification
SGS Product & Process Certification