Reply from M&S on factory farmed salmon

Email sent to Ecohustler from M&S Food Group

Dear Steve McLean (Head of Agriculture & Fisheries Sourcing at M&S Food Group)

Thank you for your reply to my - Open letter to Marks and Spencer on salmon. I am part of a group of concerned citizens working on the salmon issue. We are currently in the process of collecting evidence and expert input to enable us to reply to your email in detail. In the meantime, I am publishing your email below so that I can keep the people who have signed our petition - M&S - come clean about the damage caused by your farmed salmon - in the loop.

I am including on this page a collection of videos of welfare abuse and pollution dead zones recorded at (amongst others) Scottish Sea Farms cages that supply salmon to M&S.

Kind regards,


On Fri, Jul 9, 2021 at 8:35 AM Mclean, Steven <; wrote:

Dear Matt,

When I wrote to you earlier this week I promised to come back to you today with a more in-depth response to the concerns you raise on M&S Scottish Salmon.

I’m conscious that we may not find middle ground on our views, however I do want to assure you that as a responsible retailer with a long and proud history of doing the right thing, we have worked hard to ensure we have leading sourcing standards that put both animal welfare and environmental protection at the heart of our sourcing decisions. I also want to make sure that you are fully aware that we have a dedicated supply, with our own unique audited standards which ensures we can, with full confidence, make a 100% Responsibly Sourced claim on our farmed salmon.

M&S has a dedicated farmed salmon supply partner in Scottish Sea Farms and over the last 15-years, that partnership has developed a unique industry leading farming system that is RSPCA Assured, M&S Select Farm audited and delivers leading production standards. We are confident we work with the best Salmon farmer and together we have developed a model which defines, monitors and delivers high welfare and environmental standards of which we are proud. Our farmed Scottish Salmon is unique - the product itself is defined by a unique farming specification, a unique diet and great marine husbandry which ensures the highest quality fish our customers rightly expect.

M&S believes that working closely with our farmers, truly understanding their farming practices, being science and fact led and working collaboratively to continually improve the health and wellbeing of the fish and the environment in which they are farmed delivers a 100% Responsibly Sourced product of which we are proud.

M&S has led the way with its own unique Select Farm standard; a standard that includes and exceeds most third-party standards and that we invest a great deal of time in ensuring it delivers leading results. This includes:

  • The auditing of every salmon farm, hatchery and processing facility annually by an auditor trained in the M&S Select Farm standard
  • Crosschecking a proportion of these audits via a fully accredited and independent certification body to ensure the highest possible standards are being met
  • Undergoing announced and unannounced audits for food safety, integrity (traceability) and welfare by M&S accredited auditors
  • Regular visits to our farms, hatcheries and processing facilities by M&S aquaculture and technical colleagues so that they can meet farm staff face to face and see the high level of care with their own eyes and challenge areas for further improvement.\_UU4PrM

All elements of the production cycle – from the freshwater hatcheries and marine farms to processing and packing are also subject to both announced and unannounced audits from a wide range of government regulatory bodies and third-party specialists, each with their own remit. This includes:

  • RSPCA Assured (animal health & welfare)
  • Scottish Environment Protection Agency (public health and environment)
  • Fish Health Inspectorate (fish health)
  • Animal and Plant Health Agency (animal health and welfare)
  • Veterinary Medicines Directorate (veterinary medicines)
  • Trading Standards (animal feeds)\-8yHkE

The result is that, in 2020, Scottish Sea Farms underwent a total of 625 audits, equating to 682 days of independent assessments.

In the document attached I’ve pulled out the concerns you highlight and set out the M&S position against those concerns. I trust you will find this useful and it will give you confidence on why our Responsibly Sourced Claim is sound.

Kind regards