McDonald’s has announced that it will be the first national restaurant chain in the US to carry products bearing the blue label certificate awarded to seafood products that meet the Marine Stewardship Council standards on sustainable fishing. Starting next month, McDonald’s will pay annual fees and royalties to the Marine Stewardship Council’s ecolabel for their Filet-O-Fish sandwiches. However, it’s really rather questionable as to whether anything from McDonald’s can truly claim to be sustainable.

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McDonald’s has been long-recognized for serving food harms people, promotes obesity, heart disease, and has detrimental effects on land and water. Furthermore, some reports question the actual content of McDonald’s food products; in many cases meat accounts for about 50 percent of the meat-based products. The other 40 percent includes various derivatives, sugars and synthetic ingredients—unhealthy substances produced in an unsustainable way.

Growing concerns among the customers about the source of their seafood forced the fast-food giant to acquire the label which will guarantee the Alaskan Pollock used in McDonald’s Filet-O-Fish sandwiches comes from suppliers with sustainable fishing practices. The certified fish items will be available in US stores by early February, according to McDonald’s spokeswoman, Christina Tyler. The company plans to aquire the certification for its other products such as Happy Meals and drinks.

McDonald’s stopped using Eastern Baltic Cod back in 2007, due to overfishing and other sustainability issues. Since then, the company claims that it has been sourcing Alaskan Pollock and New Zealand Hoki exclusively from certified fisheries. With the New Zealand Hoki likely to become “red-rated”, along with other overfished species such as red snapper, monkfish and tuna, the company claims to have moved toward using only Alaskan Pollock for its fish items in the United States.

The company’s route to sustainability is hard to believe-it has been the subject of several PETA’s investigations for animal cruelty. It seems that, by acquiring yet another “green” label, the country’s largest fast-food restaurant is hoping to rid itself of the reputation associated with bad health and environmental destruction. But many believe the real issue with eco-labeling programs is the ‘pay-to-play’ aspect built into certification, and this latest move is unlikely to assuage those fears.

Via NBC News