Traceability in a time of widespread species substitution

Traceability in a time of widespread species substitution

In a time of widespread species substitution, a problem that has been highly publicized in the media recently, how does your restaurant safeguard credibility and ensure accurate labeling of the seafood you sell to your customers?

The Marine Stewardship Council (MSC), a global non-profit organization, has created a transparent chain of custody program from ‘boat to table’ that provides you with a simple solution to origin and sustainability assurance.

Use of the MSC ecolabel or claim on seafood means it is fully traceable to a wild-catch fishery that has been certified by an independent, scientific assessment team to the MSC standard for sustainable fishing. Whenever seafood is sold as MSC certified, every company that has handled the product, from the fishery to the retailer or restaurant, must meet the MSC standard for seafood traceability and have a current MSC Chain of Custody certificate.

The comprehensive traceability element of the MSC program provides assurance to commercial buyers and consumers that MSC certified fish can be traced through the supply chain back to its origin – a sustainable fishery.

Worldwide, more than 19,500 seafood products in more than 106 countries bear the blue MSC ecolabel. More than 2,300 companies have MSC Chain of Custody certification, representing more than 33,000 sites.

Recently in the U.S., McDonald’s USA became the first national restaurant chain to feature the Marine Stewardship Council’s blue ecolabel on its fish packaging. The 25 million people who visit McDonald’s every day can purchase an MSC-certified fish meal at any one of 14,000 locations nationwide.


“McDonald’s collaboration with the Marine Stewardship Council is a critical part of our company’s journey to advance positive environmental and economic practices in our supply chain,” said Dan Gorsky, senior vice president of U.S. supply chain and sustainability.

In North America, many colleges and universities such as the University of California, Berkeley; University of Notre Dame; Pomona College; Cornell University; Loyola Marymount University; McGill University; Marymount University; University of Mary Washington and George Mason University are MSC-certified. Collectively they serve more than 150,000 students and faculty daily.

Sodexo, a quality of life services leader specializing in facilities and food management, is an MSC-certified Chain of Custody supplier serving more than 15 million customers daily in multiple locations throughout North America recently achieved group certification. Chain of Custody group certification is applicable to a group of collective sites such as retail locations, supermarkets and multi-unit chain restaurants.


Bamboo Sushi, in Portland, Oregon, was a single site venture when it became the first independent restaurant in the U.S. to become MSC-certified and feature the MSC ecolabel on menus. They used their certification to market to customers and build a reputation around sustainability and have been enormously successful, now about to open their third restaurant.

“The commitment by these and other partners to seafood sustainability is significant and is helping to transform the global seafood market to a more sustainable basis,” says Kerry Coughlin, regional director for MSC Americas. “By obtaining MSC Chain of Custody certification and displaying the MSC ecolabel, our partners are assuring consumers the seafood they are purchasing is the seafood identified, it comes from a MSC-certified sustainable fishery and it can be traced back from their plate to that fishery.”

For more information or to find out how to attain MSC Chain of Custody certification:

Contact Sandra Cedrone at or visit