Guide to labels

Seafood products are often displayed with a variety of labels and certificates which are designed to help consumers to make informed choices when buying fish and shellfish.

Unfortunately, the sheer abundance of labels can often make matters even more confusing, with many consumers unaware of the differences between the schemes. The labels indicate standards on a wide range of issues, including sustainability, food safety, and social and animal welfare.

But buying high quality seafood doesn't need to be so difficult. We've assembled a simple guide to the most common labels you'll see on seafood products, so you shouldn't find yourself stumped in the supermarket again.

Marine Stewardship Council

The MSC label is an independent sustainability label which indicates that seafood has been sourced using methods which minimise impacts upon the marine environment and fish stocks. The MSC's standards comply with UN guidelines on eco-labelling.

Responsible Fishing Scheme

Developed by Seafish, the Responsible Fishing Scheme (RFS) recognises good practice in the fishing industry. The scheme assesses fishing practices, vessel equipment and hygiene, environmental responsibility, and crew competence.

Dolphin Safe

Dolphin-friendly labels indicate that your tuna or other seafood has not been sourced in a way that is harmful to dolphins. However, this doesn't exclude the possibility that other unwanted species of seafood have been caught using dolphin-safe methods

RSPCA Freedom Food

The RSPCA Freedom Food label applies only to farmed fish, and indicates that the fish have been given more space, exposed to fewer chemicals, and fed with sustainably sourced fish offcuts.

Pole-and-Line Caught

The Pole-and-Line label indicates that seafood has been caught using the pole-and-line method, which minimises bycatch, making it a more responsible method of fishing.

Global Aquaculture Alliance

Another label found only on farmed fish, the Global Aquaculture Alliance label indicates that fewer chemicals have been used, and damage to the surrounding area has been minimised.