These days, many consumers are taking steps to select brands that are socially responsible and environmentally sustainable. Unfortunately, not all companies are upfront about where their products come from and how they were produced — and this is particularly troubling where seafood, and especially tuna, are concerned.
A new report by Greenpeace, “Sea of Distress,” could serve as a helpful guide in pointing seafood lovers to those foodservice companies that are acting responsibly.
“While some brands are taking strides towards becoming ethical and sustainable operations, there is a pervasive problem in seafood supply chains,” says David Pinsky, Greenpeace oceans campaigner. “Foodservice companies feed millions of people in university cafeterias, corporate dining halls, restaurants and hospitals and often keep consumers in the dark about whether their seafood is sustainable and ethical.”
Greenpeace, which is calling for reform, says that foodservice companies should be able to ensure the seafood they sell is fully traceable from sea or farm to plate, and does not involve destructive fishing and farming methods or labor violations. Unfortunately, the industry too often incentivizes bad behaviors, the organization says, by offering discount programs for bulk purchasing of seafood, without regard for environmental or social impacts.
There is good news, though. Three major foodservice companies, Sodexo USA, Compass Group USA and Aramark, passed Greenpeace’s rigorous assessment due to their transparency, sustainable sourcing requirements and advocacy efforts.
Unfortunately, several of the largest food distributors failed the assessment. This is particularly concerning because these companies buy and sell billions of dollars of seafood that is consumed in restaurants, schools, and corporate dining halls every year. Grocery retailers are already providing an example for the foodservice industry to follow. “Carting Away the Oceans,” a separate assessment by Greenpeace of the nation’s largest supermarkets, has shown vast improvement over the past eight years, with the majority of grocery stores across the country now receiving passing scores.
“The foodservice industry, which accounts for nearly half of all food-dollar spending outside the home every day, must follow the lead of several grocery retailers and work to provide sustainable, ethical seafood,” says Pinsky.
To access the full report and learn more about ethical seafood, visit Greenpeace.org.
When dining outside your home, you may give the food on your plate less consideration than you do at home. But these meals count, too. As a consumer, you can make a considerable impact by choosing companies that are doing the right thing.