Eco-Washing McFarmed Fish

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McDonald's Sells MSC-Certified Fish - Farmed Salmon Next?
by Don Staniford
Here's a taste of things to come – if Marine Harvest, WWF and the Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) have their way we'll be soon be seeing McDonald's serving ASC-certified farmed salmon burgers alongside the MSC-certified whitefish sandwich unveiled today to celebrate World Oceans Day (see article). 

If you think that's a leap of the imagination too far then think again – McDonald's in Norway have already served McLaks salmon burgers and farmed salmon wraps in partnership with Marine Harvest.

In 1997, McDonald's were sued when "four people, including two McDonald's employees, were hospitalized after eating tainted McLaks salmon burgers at a restaurant in Lorenskog, located in the outskirts of Oslo". 
McDonald's Norway confirmed that the food poisoning materialized from a "corrupted" consignment of salmon fillets delivered by the Norwegian fish firm West Fish, based in Alesund.  Separate legal actions against McDonald's were filed by the four people who claimed they became sick after consuming McLaks burgers. "At first the McLaks tasted very good, but after some minutes my mouth and throat became numb, and I experienced internal spasms," said Geir Sundberg, one of the four filing suit against McDonald's. 

Advertising Age reports under "1997 Ad Follies":

"In Norway, McDonald's pulled the McLaks salmon burger off the market after four customers were treated for food poisoning. McLaks had been a hit with health-conscious Norwegians, and McDonald's had been considering expanding the product to Sweden and Denmark"

For more details read "McDonald's sued over McSalmon burger sickness".

Not learning their lesson, McDonald's teamed up with Marine Harvest a decade later in 2007 and launched a farmed salmon wrap with an ad campaign showing a 'Laksewrap' (Salmon wrap) leaping out of the water with a M shape and the Marine Harvest logo underneath.  Marine Harvest Canada blogged about it via 'Marine Harvest teams up with McDonalds' and even the Norwegian Embassy in the United States blogged "McSalmon, Please!".

"It is very exciting to cooperate with McDonalds and launch such a healthy and delicious product at the fast food chain", said Arne Hjeltnes, Communication Director in Marine Harvest.

For more details read: "Marine Harvest teams up with McDonalds" and "McDonalds launches Marine Harvest salmon wrap".

Now WWF are now funding the Aquaculture Stewardship Council and are represented on the supervisory board (Jose Villalon of WWF US is the chairman of the board).  WWF also funded the MSC.  Marine Harvest meanwhile pay WWF Norway 800,000 NOK per year and are also on the Steering Committee of WWF's 'Salmon Aquaculture Dialogue'.  WWF last month published a final draft of farmed salmon standards which will be handed over to the ASC once finalized and later this year could see the certification of farmed salmon as sustainable.  Marine Harvest and McDonald's are waiting in the wings. 

If you're not lovin' the idea of ASC-certified McSalmon burgers sourced from Marine Harvest please sign onto a letter to WWF opposing the certification of farmed salmon:

And sign onto a petition to WWF and the ASC:

Best fishes,

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