In a landmark move for sustainability, McDonald's has announced that more than 13 million customers every day across Europe will be able to buy Marine Stewardship Council (MSC)-certified sustainable fish in McDonald's restaurants beginning in October this year.

The news comes as 7,000 McDonald's restaurants across 39 European countries achieve certification to the MSC Chain of Custody traceability standard, as part of the company's ongoing commitment to enhance its sustainable sourcing practices.

The MSC is an independent global organisation set up to tackle the problem of overfishing by recognising and rewarding sustainable fisheries through its certification and eco-labelling program. McDonald's will be the first company in its sector to introduce MSC certified white fish throughout Europe. Last year, the company sold approximately 100 million Filet-o-Fish portions across Europe.

The certification is a result of a long-term commitment made by McDonald's to work with suppliers to improve sustainable fishing practices through its global Sustainable Fisheries Policy.

"McDonald's will be making MSC-labeled fish available at an affordable price to millions of our customers across Europe," says Steve Easterbrook, president of McDonald's Europe. "We chose the MSC certification as the most robust and recognisable independent accreditation of our own sustainable fisheries standard. This is an important milestone in our commitment to ensure future long-term supply."

"McDonald's Europe's decision to source white fish products exclusively from fisheries that have met the rigorous MSC standard for sustainability is a tremendous testament to the ability of our industry leaders to transform the seafood market and help drive changes on the water," says Rupert Howes, CEO of MSC. "We're delighted all of McDonald's Filet-O-Fish in Europe will be MSC certified and McDonald's is making sustainable fish so widely available. This is a fantastic achievement and we hope that others will follow their lead."

This is the latest landmark in McDonald's pan-European sustainability drive. In 2001, the company established its European McDonald's Agricultural Assistance Programme (MAAP) to increase transparency and drive improvements in quality and sustainability in its agricultural supply chain.

In 2007, McDonald's helped promote consumer awareness of responsible sourcing by rolling out sustainably certified coffee in all of its European restaurants. The logos of organizations such as the Rainforest Alliance and Utz Certified now appear on one million cups of coffee served in McDonald's European restaurants every day.

In September 2009, McDonald's built on MAAP when it launched the Flagship Farms Program, a project developed to encourage sharing and improvements in sustainable agriculture, through a direct dialogue amongst progressive farmers across Europe.

McDonald's also announced a Sustainable Land Management Commitment in March this year. Based on an analysis conducted in collaboration with the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), the SLMC requires that, over time, its suppliers only use agricultural raw materials for the company's food and packaging that originate from sustainably-managed land. 

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