Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Hey Jamie! Where's the sustainable packaging?

On the advice of a friend, BFTF recently bought some MSC certified Jamie Oliver Fish Fingers.

When served as Fish Finger sandwiches, the consensus of the BFTF household was that, compared to the awesomely good value Sainsburys Basics MSC certified fillet fish fingers, Jamies offering had slightly nicer breadcrumbs but the actual fish tasted pretty much the same.

But what caught BFTF's eye was that whilst Jamies Fish Fingers made a big play of their sustainability (which is a GOOD THING, but also achieved by Sainsburys MSC certified Basics Fillet Fish Fingers) the actual card packaging shows no evidence of being made from recycled or FSC certified stock, suggesting that there is every chance that it is instead card from rainforest wood that has been unsustainably or illegally.

In case you are wondering, dear reader, that is NOT A GOOD THING.

So BFTF send feedback to Jamie and Youngs (who Jamie has partnered with) to ask them whether the card in the packaging was sustainably sourced and, if not, when it would be...

Update:04 Feb 2013
Youngs recently responded saying that they "do not use recycled board for products that have direct contact with food for food safety reasons" and that "The packs are however manufactured from fresh forest fibres sourced only from sustainably managed forests."

In BFTF's experience, companies who are really using sustainably sourced paper or card will immediately state what standard they are buying to (e.g FSC), so it was a little disturbing to receive this rather bland statement from Youngs, so BFTF sent back an email thanking Youngs for getting back to me and saying:

"The term "sustainably managed" is often used by companies to cover up the fact that their paper/card isn't really sustainably sourced at all. I'm sure that isn't the case with Youngs and hope you can advise what standard the card supplier is working to. For example, is it : FSC ? (which would be a good thing); PEFC ? (which is a significantly less strong standard); ISO14001 ?(which does not mandate any percentage of sustainability) or Something else?

Update:06 Feb 2013
Received a futher response from Youngs, wich said :

"I have been further informed by our packaging department that all our paper materials come from responsibly sourced forests. The forests we source from hold ISO14001, PEFC and FSC chain of custody however as a business we currently choose not to identify this on our printed packaging."

ISO14001 and PEFC are (to BFTF's understanding) much weaker standards that FSC and it is a little disturbing that Youngs were not aware of this. Maybe they have been the victims of Greenwash, or perhaps they are practicing it? Either way, perhaps Jamie should have a word with them...So BFTF chased him up again via the feedback form on his site :

"Card used for these products appears to be made to ISO14001 and PEFC standards, both of which allow a large amount of unsustainable (e.g. illegally logged rainforest) wood to be used. Youngs don't appear to understand that ISO14001 does not guarantee sustainability."

Chased up via website on 12th April and 04th May

On 8th May received the following from jamieoliver.com, which doesn't actually answer the question I asked :
"...Our Packaging Department have advised that we do not use recycled board for products that have direct contact with food for food safety reasons. The packs are manufactured from fresh forest fibres sourced only from sustainably managed forests..."

So bounced back a response pointing out that PEFC and ISO14001 were very weak standards and did not offer any real protection against the use of illegally or unsustainably logged wood, and that since Tesco were able to use FSC paper even for their till receipts, I couldn't see why Jamie Oliver couldn't use FSC card for his fish finger packaging.

Jamie Oliver's Fish Fingers - Sustainable Fish... but what about the packaging?

Related Posts
Challenging Halfords on labour practices in the developing world
Sustainable paper at Orion Books
FSC at Random House
A message to WHSmith
Challenging FireAngel on sustainability


  1. Sorry but there's no such thing as 'sustainable' cruelty-free fish. So don't eat it!

  2. I'm starting to think that way too, can't have the own-brand cod for over-fishing, basics pollock is measely, and Jamie's pollock isn't very forest-friendly..