McDonald's Nominated for Seafood Champion Award

filet o fish photo

Photo credit: Jon Yang

It's easy to forget that McDonald's, famous for its Big Macs and french fries, is also in the fish business. But indeed, McDonald's purchases more than 18,000 metric tons, or 43.2 million pounds, of fish a year for its popular Filet-O-Fish sandwiches. Filet-O-Fish is made with pollock, a whitefish that lives in the cold waters off the coasts of Alaska and eastern Russia. The Marine Stewardship Council has certified U.S. Bering Sea/Aleutian Islands and the Gulf of Alaska pollock fisheries as models for sustainable fisheries management, but many retailers and foodservice operators still use whitefish from other fisheries that are less sustainable and traceable.In 2001, Gary Johnson, McDonald's senior director of worldwide supply chain management, saw that McDonald's might run up against limitations in the supply of whitefish in the future. So he invited whitefish suppliers to join a Global Fish Forum to assess worldwide whitefish resources. Since convening the forum, McDonald's has shifted purchases away from less sustainable sources to more sustainable Alaska pollock. He also also helped develop a sustainability standard for McDonald's fish sourcing, and has worked with several key whitefish fisheries to reduce illegal fishing. In 2007, more than 91% of all McDonald’s fish originated from fisheries with an MSC stock status of green or yellow.

This week, Johnson was recognized at the Seafood Summit, an annual event hosted by the Seafood Choices Alliance held this year in San Diego. He and nine other individuals and organizations are finalists for the 2009 Seafood Champion award.

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