Sustainability – MSC and Fish & Kids

In March 2003, Brakes and specialist business M&J Seafood became the first foodservice suppliers to carry products certified by the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) – specifically accredited to suppliers who meet the MSC standard for sustainable and well managed fisheries. The sustainability of fish stocks is a serious issue for the Brakes Group, so it is vital that customers are provided with choice and the assurance that the fish Brakes supplies is sourced in a responsible manner. Brakes strives to be an industry leader and is committed to educating and changing customer and consumer attitudes. Through launching landmark products and supporting pioneering initiatives, Brakes believes it is making a difference to people’s attitude to the environment. As part of its ongoing commitment, one such scheme to gain its suport has been the MSC’s Fish & Kids. Fish & Kids aims to educate the next generation of consumers about the risks of over-fishing and encourage school caterers to offer sustainable fish bearing the MSC’s independent seafood eco-label. Targeting children and increasing both their knowledge and understanding as well as introducing them to new species of fish will ensure future consumers will make an informed decision around sustainability and may even educate their own parents on this subject. The programme features a free and fun education pack and website that explores the threats facing the oceans and engage children in activities and games to save the seas before time runs out. The project has already seen Brakes triple its range of sustainable fish options available to school caterers. All of Brakes’ products with the MSC eco-label meet the government’s new school nutritional requirements. They will not only make school dinners healthier but will help secure our fish stocks. In partnership with DEFRA and the MSC, Brakes has assisted in enabling over 3000 primary schools to join the initiative which includes providing educational materials and support around dwindling fish stocks, fish species and the environment that meets all relevant national curriculum specifications. Barry Gurteen, trade sector director at Brakes, said: “The popularity of the ‘Fish and Kids’ project and its success in educating young people to look at a sustainable choice and eat healthily has been fantastic. To think in the two years since the pilot at Surrey schools, we now have the potential to reach over 1 million children with a sustainable fish option at lunch really underlines its success. Our commitment continues and we are still talking to many local authorities with regards to joining the project and reaping the benefits it brings.” As the UK’s largest supplier of food to schools, Brakes has a wide range of products from salmon fishfingers to simple hoki fillets, enabling schools to offer pupils a sustainable fish choice at lunchtime. Education authorities who are part of ‘fish and kids’ include; Cardiff and Vale of Glamorgan (first local authorities) in Wales. Surrey Schools, Tower Hamlets, Liverpool, Herts, Birmingham and Clackmannanshire are also benefiting from eco-friendly lunches with fish certified by the MSC and supplied by Brakes. Sue Eakers, DSU group manager for Schools and Lifelong Learning, says: “Cardiff, along with the Vale of Glamorgan, was the first authority in Wales to provide MSC certified fish on the school menu and I am thrilled that our authority is taking its first steps in this way. It is important that from a young age there is an understanding about where food comes from and how it is produced. This scheme will in turn encourage many to become responsible consumers in later life.” In 2007 Brakes sold over 500,000 kgs of fish sourced from sustainable fisheries and certified by the MSC. With nearly 30 MSC accredited products, Brakes offers the largest range of sustainable fish products in foodservice. Suitable for all industry sectors including pubs, restaurants and hotels, one of the greatest inroads has been within the education sector and creating awareness of the issues surrounding over fishing to impressionable minds. Brakes is currently the only foodservice supplier able to extend its ‘Chain of Custody’ or traceability standard, to its public sector clients – essential in order to highlight sustainable fish using the eco- label. For further information on any of these products, please contact Brakes Customer Service on 0845 606 9090. Alternatively, visit the website at