MSC launches first ‘end of term’ report card ahead of new UK school food standards — Marine Stewardship Council
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MSC launches first ‘end of term’ report card ahead of new UK school food standards

Jul 30, 2014

Primary school children in the north of England and the Midlands are more likely to be eating sustainable seafood than their counterparts in the south of the country, according to a new report published today.

The Marine Stewardship Council (MSC), which runs the world’s leading standard for sustainable seafood, today publishes its first "end of year report" to assess how well-prepared primary schools are across England for the School Food Standards published in June.

Dramatic regional differences

MSC took data from its Chain of Custody programme, which is the only global standard that ensures sustainable seafood is traceable from ocean to plate. Dramatic differences in regional trends were found across England’s 156 local education authorities.

Of the 2,416 state-funded primary schools that serve certified sustainable fish in their canteens, 1,465 schools are in the north of England and the Midlands, while the combined figure for the south-west, south-east and London is 951.

Mandatory standards from 2015

Mandatory sustainable fish standards for government departments, agencies, prisons and parts of the armed forces were introduced in 2011. From January 2015, new School Food Standards will become mandatory and contain recommendations that schools "choose fish from verifiably sustainable sources and ideally MSC".

The grades

In the Midlands, Solihull was awarded an A* grade, while Birmingham and Coventry were each awarded an A. In the north, Bolton, Cheshire East & West, Durham, Oldham, Stockport and Tameside were graded at A, bringing the regional grade to an A, despite Yorkshire being entirely unrepresented.

In the south-east, Brighton & Hove was graded A*, while Oxfordshire and Norfolk were graded C, bringing the regional grade to a C. Meanwhile, the south-west only reached a D grade because of very low representation.

MSC launches first ‘end of term’ report card ahead of new UK school food standards




In London, Camden, Merton, Waltham Forest and Tower Hamlets were graded A*, Barking & Dagenham and Kensington & Chelsea and earned a grade A, while Greenwich and Islington were awarded B grades.

But just 42 of England’s 156 LEAs have chosen MSC-certified supplies, with many of those 42 LEAs being represented by only one or two schools.

640,000 primary school children eating sustainable fish

Although only 14% of England’s 16,784 state-funded primary schools currently provide a choice of certified sustainable fish in canteens, that already equates to an estimated 640,000 of the 4.3m state primary school children in England, more than 400,000 of them in the Midlands and north of England.

Toby Middleton, UK senior country manager said, "We applaud all the hard work that the A-grade LEAs have been awarded for this first report. But 70% of England’s LEAs are missing an opportunity to celebrate marine sustainability.

School children help transform supply chain

"We encourage more LEAs to take up government guidelines and join the growing community of MSC-certified schools. We hope that by the time we run these numbers again, more LEAs will make the grade. In the meantime, we can help those with low grades do better and for those not even on the map this year, we can help them show up for the exam.

"Chain of Custody is a great way to ensure traceability and is the ultimate commitment for schools and LEAs to keeping oceans healthy, while MSC’s Fish and Kids education programme helps children to understand the need to protect the world’s oceans.

"If England’s 4.3m primary school children can help safeguard fish stocks for their own generation and the ones that follow, we are off to a good start in transforming the supply of seafood to a sustainable basis and recognising the efforts of pioneer fisheries that make a difference on the water."

Solihull's strong commitment to the environment

In 2012, Solihull committed to serve MSC certified fish at all of its 62 primary schools to help support the environment.

Jacqui Webb, spokeswoman for Solihull catering services, said: "In Solihull, we strive to provide the best options available, focusing on lives not services. One of the questions that is asked at parents evening is what are we doing to support the environment? By using MSC-certified fish, we can confidently inform our customers of the Chain of Custody and how the products are traceable back to source.

"Since gaining the MSC certification our staff have been educated on the use of MSC-certified fish have a greater understanding of the need to provide sustainable fish."

Schools in England currently spend an estimated £43m on fish each year, according to campaigners at Sustainable Fish City who pushed for sustainable fish to become part of the Government Buying Standards introduced in 2011.

Download the Sustainable fish schools report (PDF, 2 pages, 810 KB)

MSC launches first ‘end of term’ report card ahead of new UK school food standards

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