MFDS program recognized for commitment to serving sustainable seafood

Posted on Thursday, March 14, 2013

Food and Hospitality Services Director Mathieu Laperle (left) and MFDS Executive Chef Oliver de Volpi. / Photo: Adam Scotti

McGill becomes first Canadian university to receive certification from Marine Stewardship Council

By McGill Reporter Staff

McGill Food and Dining Services (MFDS) has received the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) Chain of Custody certification, becoming the first Canadian post-secondary institution to be recognized by the MSC for its commitment to serving sustainable seafood.

The MSC, an international non-profit organization set up to help transform the seafood market to a sustainable basis, maintains the most widely respected and accepted global standard for the certification of wild capture seafood. The program is based on a rigorous, science-based standard and independent, third-party assessment by internationally accredited certification bodies.

Beginning immediately, McGill students, faculty, staff and visitors will be able to support sustainably managed fisheries by choosing MSC certified seafood in four dining halls on campus, where students will enjoy MSC certified Alaska Pacific Cod from the Gulf of Alaska, Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands, MSC certified Northern shrimp from the Gulf of St. Lawrence, MSC certified Alaska flatfish from the Gulf of Alaska and MSC certified flatfish from the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands. MFDS serves only sustainable seafood, with MSC certified species accounting for 40 per cent of all seafood served.

“McGill Food and Dining Services is thrilled to be the first university dining program in Canada to receive the Marine Stewardship Council certification,” said Mathieu Laperle, Director, Food and Hospitality Services. “Today, only two years after creating our Strategic Plan on Sustainability, a new milestone has been reached in terms of sustainable purchases, reinforcing our position as a leader in the field among academic institutions. The MSC certification is a natural extension of our commitment and we look forward to a long lasting collaboration between all those involved in the process.”

One unique element of McGill’s seafood certification process is the key role played by students. Kickstarted by a capstone class project in McGill’s School of Environment, the certification effort was picked up by some passionate students who, supported by McGill’s Sustainability Projects Fund, were able to work in partnership with MFDS to see the certification through to completion.

“I feel that this accomplishment is a true testament to the power that applied student research and other forms of experiential learning really have,” said William Agnew (BA ’11), a member of the original student research team who worked on the project for over two years. “Furthermore, it is a great example of how collaboration with McGill faculty and administration can help students achieve exciting things in their community and extend learning far beyond the classroom.”

The MSC certification process includes an assessment conducted by a third-party certifier as well as training of front line staff. MSC’s Chain of Custody system assures that in every step of the chain – from the fishers, to the processor, to the distributor and the end-user – MSC certified seafood is not mixed with or substituted for non-certified seafood. In McGill’s case this Chain of Custody includes food service provider ARAMARK Canada and suppliers Sysco and GFS Canada.

Kerry Coughlin, MSC Americas Regional Director, said: “McGill University is known around the world for its academic excellence and thought leadership, and with students coming from 150 countries, adopting the global Marine Stewardship Council program will send a powerful message about the importance of seafood sustainability. Academic institutions have a unique ability to play a key role in increasing consumer engagement to make a positive contribution to the health of the world’s oceans and we welcome McGill University into the MSC program.”

The MSC standard is based on three core principles: health of the stock; impact on the marine ecosystem; and management of the fishery. The distinctive blue MSC ecolabel is a trust-mark to buyers and consumers worldwide confirming that the seafood comes from a sustainable fishery that has achieved MSC certification.

The certification was led by MFDS Executive Chef, Operations and Sustainability, Oliver De Volpi, who said: “The certification is a collaborative effort which stemmed from applied student research. We are thankful to our staff, our suppliers, the MSC organization, and all who have contributed in making this endeavor possible.”

“The success in obtaining the MSC certification is one of many examples of the creative ways people from various parts of the McGill community are coming together to create a vision for a sustainable future on our campus and beyond,” said Martin Krayer von Krauss, Manager of McGill’s Office of Sustainability. “It is a wonderful illustration of how people with great ideas, when given the necessary resources, can bring about change.”

For more information about the Marine Stewardship Council, visit: msc.org.

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One Response to MFDS program recognized for commitment to serving sustainable seafood

  1. Lisa says:

    I just worry about contamination of our seafood by all the oil spills and other disasters. We may not be able to eat seafood in the next 40 years. Enjoy it while you can.

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