Good Fish Finger Guide 2018

Fish fingers

Fish fingers – the entry level to seafood and often the first encounter many of us have with fish on our plates. But just how sustainable are they?  

Our research found that 85% of fish in 48 retail own-brand and branded fingers came from sustainable green rated ‘Best Choice’ sources when the Marine Conservation Society’s Good Fish Guide ratings were applied to the fish ingredient* part of the product. That makes some fish fingers more sustainable than unprocessed fish from the seafood counter!

But, despite that good news, in many cases poor labelling means it’s difficult for consumers to know whether the fish in their fish fingers comes from sustainable sources.  

23% of the fish fingers we investigated had no credible ecolabels, sustainability statements and not enough detail on how and where the fish were caught, keeping consumers in the dark on overall sustainability. 40% of fish fingers reviewed didn’t have a credible ecolabel on pack and only 19% of fish fingers had enough detailed information for consumers to know how and where the fish was caught. 

labelling info

Look for the following eco-labels, they’re better environmental choices…
mcs - sustainably fished asc - responsibly farmed Organic logos

Unlike unprocessed seafood (fish that isn’t canned, mixed or breaded), there is no legal requirement for retailers and brands to put details of seafood origins on pack for processed seafood. However, some retailers including Aldi, Lidl and Sainsbury’s included detailed information of seafood origins on pack across most of their fish fingers.   

Our Good Fish Finger Guide 2018 reveals which supermarkets are selling fish fingers you can be confident in buying and which brands you should think about leaving in the freezer.  

*MCS did not assess the sustainability of the non-fish ingredients in the fish fingers or the sustainability of the packaging.

Top 15 sustainable fish fingers (1 rated in alphabetical order)

Read the summary for each retailer or brand below or Download the full PDF


Jump to: Aldi | Asda | Birds eye | Co-op | Iceland | Lidl | Marks and Spencer | Morrisons | Sainsbury’s | Tesco | Waitrose | Young’s

Listed in alphabetical order

Key to labelling

Seafood origins labelling
Good labelling Good. Most products included detailed seafood origins on pack including the fish name, and where and how it was caught


Ok labelling Ok. Some products had seafood origins on pack including the fish name, and where or how it was caught

Bad labelling Bad. Most products didn’t include seafood origins of where or how the fish was caught on pack

Credible ecolabel
Credible ecolabel on all packs Credible third-party ecolabel on all packs


Credible third-party  ecolabel on some packs Credible third-party ecolabel on some packs

No credible third-party  ecolabel on packs No credible third-party ecolabel on packs


Aldi

Sustainability of fish fingers
All sustainable, green rated (2), Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certified fish.
Seafood rated: Good fish guide rating 2

Recommendations
Whilst Aldi confirmed they are sourcing MSC certified pollock for their Aldi Northern Catch omega-3 fish fingers, they did not have the MSC ecolabel on pack during the time the results were published. Aldi have said they are going to include the MSC ecolabel on pack by mid October.

Labelling - Good labelling. Most products included details of the origin of the fish on pack including the fish name, and where and how it was caught Eco labelling - Credible ecolabel on all packs


Asda

Sustainability of fish fingers
Asda source mainly sustainable green rated (1&2) and some 3 rated fish.
Seafood rated: Good fish guide rating 1 Good fish guide rating 2 Good fish guide rating 3

Best choice
Asda smart price fish fingers and Asda omega-3 fish fingers are the most sustainable (rated 1).

Recommendations
Asda could do more to include seafood origins and consumer sustainability information, of which could be a credible ecolabel, on pack.

Labelling - Ok labelling. Most products had some details of the origin of the fish on pack including the fish name, and where and how it was caught Eco labelling - No credible ecolabel on packs


Birds eye

Sustainability of fish fingers
All sustainable, green rated (2), MSC certified fish.
Seafood rated: Good fish guide rating 2

Recommendations Whilst there is no information of seafood origins on pack, Birds Eye do have a provenance code on pack where you can look up the seafood origins on their website which is great for transparency. Birds Eye could do more to include seafood origins on pack.

Labelling - Ok labelling. Most products had some details of the origin of the fish on pack including the fish name, and where and how it was caught Eco labelling - Credible ecolabel on all packs


Co-op

Sustainability of fish fingers
All sustainable, green rated (1&2), MSC certified fish.
Seafood rated: Good fish guide rating 1 Good fish guide rating 2

Best choice
Co-op omega-3 fish fingers are the most sustainable (rated 1).

Recommendations
Co-op could do more to include detailed seafood origins on pack.

Labelling - Ok labelling. Most products had some details of the origin of the fish on pack including the fish name, and where and how it was caught Eco labelling - Credible ecolabel on all packs


Iceland

Sustainability of fish fingers
Iceland breaded fish fingers are sustainable green rated (1).
Seafood rated: Good fish guide rating 1

Recommendations
Iceland could do more to include seafood origins and consumer sustainability information, of which could be a credible ecolabel, on pack.

Labelling - Bad labelling. Most products didn’t include where and how the fish was caught on pack Eco labelling - No credible ecolabel on packs


Lidl

Sustainability of fish fingers
All sustainable, green rated (2), MSC certified fish.
Seafood rated: Good fish guide rating 2

Recommendations
Lidl source mixed Atlantic and Pacific cod in their cod fish fingers. Whilst they list the capture area & stock area of Atlantic cod and capture area of Pacific cod on pack, they could include the stock area of Pacific cod on pack.

Labelling - Good labelling. Most products included details of the origin of the fish on pack including the fish name, and where and how it was caught Eco labelling - Credible ecolabel on all packs


Marks and Spencer

Sustainability of fish fingers
Marks and Spencer source mainly sustainable green rated (1&2) fish. The cod in the chunky breaded cod fish fingers is sourced from a fishery in a credible Fishery Improvement Project supported by M&S (rated ‘5 improver’). MCS encourages businesses to support credible Improvement Projects like this.
Seafood rated: Good fish guide rating 1 Good fish guide rating 2 Good fish guide rating 5

Best choice
Marks and Spencer gluten free cod fish fingers are the most sustainable (rated 1).

Recommendations
Marks and Spencer have their seafood sources and an interactive map on their website which details their seafood origins which is great for transparency. Marks and Spencer could do more to include detailed seafood origins on pack.

Labelling - Ok labelling. Most products had some details of the origin of the fish on pack including the fish name, and where and how it was caught Eco labelling - No credible ecolabel on packs


Morrisons

Sustainability of fish fingers
Morrisons source mainly sustainable green rated (1&2) and some 3 rated fish.
Seafood rated: Good fish guide rating 1 Good fish guide rating 2 Good fish guide rating 3

Best choice
Morrisons omega-3 fish fingers and Morrisons savers fish fingers are the most sustainable (rated 1).

Recommendations
Morrisons could do more to include seafood origins and consumer sustainability information, of which could be a credible ecolabel, on pack.

Labelling - Bad labelling. Most products didn’t include where and how the fish was caught on pack Eco labelling - No credible ecolabel on packs


Sainsbury’s

Sustainability of fish fingers
All sustainable, green rated (1&2), MSC certified fish.
Seafood rated: Good fish guide rating 1 Good fish guide rating 2

Best choice
Sainsbury’s cod fillet fish fingers, Sainsbury’s “deliciously free from” cod fish fingers, Sainsbury’s basic fish fingers, Sainsbury’s omega-3 fish fingers are the most sustainable (rated 1).

Recommendations
Sainsbury’s could do more to include detailed seafood origins on pack across all their fish fingers.

Labelling - Good labelling. Most products included details of the origin of the fish on pack including the fish name, and where and how it was caught Eco labelling - Credible ecolabel on all packs


Tesco

Sustainability of fish fingers
Tesco source mainly sustainable green rated (1&2) MSC certified fish in their fish fingers although Tesco source amber (4 rated) Atlantic cod from the East Baltic in their Tesco finest chunky cod fish fingers.
Seafood rated: Good fish guide rating 1 Good fish guide rating 2 Good fish guide rating 4

Best choice
Tesco omega-3 fish fingers are the most sustainable (rated 1).

Recommendations
Tesco could change their source of their amber rated cod in their Tesco finest chunky cod fish fingers and do more to include detailed seafood origins on pack across all their fish fingers.

Labelling - Ok labelling. Most products had some details of the origin of the fish on pack including the fish name, and where and how it was caught Eco labelling - Credible ecolabel on some packs


Waitrose

Sustainability of fish fingers
Waitrose source mainly sustainable green rated (1&2) and some 3 rated MSC certified fish.
Seafood rated: Good fish guide rating 1 Good fish guide rating 2 Good fish guide rating 3

Best choice
Waitrose essential cod fish fingers and Waitrose 6 essential chunky cod fillet fish fingers in breadcrumbs are the most sustainable (rated 1).

Recommendations
Waitrose include detailed labelling of seafood origins on some of their fish fingers like Waitrose essential cod fish fingers. Waitrose could do more to include detailed seafood origins on pack across all of their fish fingers.

Labelling - Ok labelling. Most products had some details of the origin of the fish on pack including the fish name, and where and how it was caught Eco labelling - Credible ecolabel on all packs


Young’s

Sustainability of fish fingers
All sustainable, green rated (1&2) fish.
Seafood rated: Good fish guide rating 1 Good fish guide rating 2

Best choice
Young’s omega-3 fish fingers are the most sustainable (rated 1).

Recommendations
Young’s could do more to include detailed seafood origins on pack across all their fish fingers.

Labelling - Bad labelling. Most products didn’t include where and how the fish was caught on pack Eco labelling - Credible ecolabel on some packs

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