Published on September 22nd, 20155
Marine Stewardship Council to Investigate Green Pasture
The Marine Stewardship Council has initiated an investigation of Green Pasture’s unauthorized use of its good name. Although Green Pasture does not use the MSC Eco-Label on its bottles of fermented cod liver oil, skate oil or other products, the company implies the Marine Stewardship Council’s endorsement on its website.
And that’s not okay.
Proper use of the MSC eco-label requires that the product be traceable through the supply chain back to a certified fishery to assure consumers it’s a truly sustainable seafood product and not mislabeled as such. Boat-to-bottle transparency, of course, is impossible for a company that has long promised consumers a premium “cod liver oil” product but delivered cheap “pollock liver oil.” It’s also impossible when that company has implied that its “arctic cod” came from the North Atlantic when it actually came from the Pacific.
Over the years many consumers have asked David Wetzel of Green Pasture where he sources the fish livers he ferments, but have consistently gotten vague and evasive answers. He has sometimes said his source is a mysterious unnamed Russian and other times declared he obtains all his livers from unnamed suppliers supposedly accredited by the MSC. Either way consumers have had no solid information that could help them accurately evaluate the authenticity and sustainability of his product. Yet most consumers have trusted that the product was what he said it was because of the endorsement of the Weston A. Price Foundation.
In fact, the FCLO is mislabeled as from cod livers, an act that may violate FDA and FTC regulations and has led to the filing of consumer complaints. The Nebraska Attorney General’s Office is also finding the matter of interest. Furthermore, Food Safety News, a publication taken seriously by food and supplement regulators, has called on the Department of Justice and the FDA to investigate.
In short, Green Pasture’s unauthorized use of the Marine Stewardship Council’s name appears to be part of an overall pattern in which there has been a notable lack of transparency and denial of the consumer’s “right to know.”
Replying to one consumer, Michael Griff, who serves as Commercial Manager, Americas, for the Marine Stewardship Council, wrote: “Green Pasture Products may be sourcing from MSC certified fisheries but they are not able to make this claim since they have not followed the MSC Chain of Custody certification. Chain of Custody is an essential part of the MSC program which ensures that product can be traced back to a MSC certified fishery that meets our rigorous standard.
In another email, Griff wrote, “We will contact the company and explain what they would need to do in order to make such a claim and be in compliance with our program.”
As for its action on a complaint lodged last year, the Marine Stewardship Council replied, “Green Pasture has not been responsive and we will contact them again. If they do not respond, we will send them a formal letter . . .
The Marine Stewardship Council is “a world-wide organization with a mission to use its eco-label and fishery certification program to contribute to the health of the world’s oceans by recognizing and rewarding sustainable fishing practices, influencing the choices people make when buying seafood, and working with our partners to transform the seafood market to a sustainable basis.”
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