If you had to guess where fish fingers, that childhood teatime favourite, fell on a scale of sustainability, you probably wouldn’t imagine they’d get top marks.
Despite tasting delicious – especially in a butty – we’d have guessed that most cheap fish fingers were just a mashup of everything the sea has to offer.
Especially as there is no legal requirement for retailers to put the source of processed seafood (stuff that is canned, mixed or breaded) on the packet.
But a new report from the Marine Conservation Society has revealed that the freezer staple isn’t actually as bad for marine life as you’d imagine. In fact, they are one of the most sustainable options in the supermarket, beating many fresh fish cuts.
Analysis by the MCS found the majority of fish in the 48 different own-brand fish fingers ranges (including Asda, Sainsbury’s and Tesco) fell into its ‘green rated’ category (the most sustainable offerings).
This is because 85 per cent of the fish in the fingers – found to be mostly Atlantic or Pacific cod, Alaska pollock and haddock —was from sustainable origins.
So despite the lack of clear labelling making it difficult for consumers to know where their fish comes from (just 19 per cent of packs included any detailed information), the supermarkets weren’t found to have anything to hide.
The MCS’s Good Fish Guide helps consumers know which fish varieties to shop and eat and now features a fish fingers guide. For a long time, Britons were discouraged from eating cod and haddock due to overfishing, but the populations have now largely replenished.
MCS spokesperson, Rajina Gurung, who compiled the addition to the guide, said: “Consumers may not be aware that the majority of fish in retail own brand and branded fish fingers actually comes from sustainable sources.
“Some saver brands even turned out to be the most sustainable, showing that you do not have to pay a fortune for sustainability.”
Every day 1.5 million fish fingers are eaten in Britain, making them the nation’s most popular fish product. A poll in 1993 named Captain Birds Eye as the most recognised captain after Captain Cook.
Fish fingers were nearly launched as Battered Cod Pieces until a poll of Birds Eye workers opted for the snappier title.
The Top 15 Best Choice Green Rated (using the MCS Good Fish Guide)
Asda smart price fish fingers
Asda omega-3 fish fingers
Co-op omega-3 fish fingers
Iceland breaded fish fingers
Marks & Spencer gluten-free cod fish fingers
Morrisons omega-3 fish fingers
Morrisons savers fish fingers
Sainsbury’s cod fillet fish fingers
Sainsbury’s “deliciously free from” cod fish fingers
Sainsbury’s basic fish fingers
Sainsbury’s omega-3 pollock fish fingers
Tesco omega-3 fish fingers
Waitrose essential cod fish fingers
Waitrose essential chunky cod fillet fingers in breadcrumbs
Young’s omega-3 fish fingers.