This website is accessible to all versions of every browser. However, you are seeing this message because your browser does not support basic Web standards, and does not properly display the site's design details. Please consider upgrading to a more modern browser. (Learn More).
Posted Wednesday, July 5, 2006
Choosing wild salmon rather than farmed can minimize exposure to pollutants
Yonkers, NY — Salmon that is labeled “wild” may actually be farmed-raised, an analysis in the August issue of Consumer Reports reveals.
Consumer Reports bought 23 supposedly “wild” salmon filets last November, December and March—during the off-season for wild-caught salmon—and found that only 10 of the 23 were definitely caught in the wild. The rest of the fish was farm-raised salmon.
CR’s findings raise both cost and health concerns for the consumer.
Typically, wild salmon costs more than farmed. CR paid an average of $6.31 a pound for salmon labeled as farmed (all of which was indeed farmed) compared with $12.80 for correctly labeled wild salmon. The most costly of the bunch was farmed salmon labeled as wild, with an average price of $15.62 a pound.
In the past 16 years, the average American’s salmon consumption has quintupled with good reason—the fish is high in heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids and relatively low in mercury. A global salmon-farming industry has developed to meet this demand. Although wild salmon generally carry a higher price tag per pound, they tend to be healthier than the farm-raised variety. Farmed salmon are raised in pens, where they eat meal made from other fish that may have lived in polluted waters. As a result, they tend to accumulate more PCBs and dioxins than wild salmon. These industrial chemicals can cause cancer and reproductive problems, are fat-soluble and can be stored in the body’s fat tissue for years.
Under federal law, most supermarkets must label fresh and frozen seafood with its country of origin and whether it’s wild or farm-raised. Fish stores don’t have to post this information, but if they do, the law requires that it must be accurate.
CR began its investigation in the summer of 2005, at the height of salmon season, when wild salmon is abundant. We purchased both varieties of salmon—salmon labeled wild and salmon labeled as farmed—and tested them for synthetic coloring agents fed to farmed salmon to change their flesh from gray to pink-orange. Not surprisingly, CR’s tests found that all 27 salmon were labeled correctly.
When CR resumed purchasing in salmon’s off-season (November, December and March), we discovered that 13 of 23 salmons labeled as wild turned out to be farm-raised. We also found that supermarkets were more likely to correctly label wild salmon than fish stores in November and December. The good news is that—in our sampling—none harbored malachite green, a potentially carcinogenic fungicide banned in the U.S. but occasionally found in salmon.
From a health standpoint, CR recommends consuming wild salmon as the best choice for most people, especially children and women who may bear children. Here’s what to consider when buying salmon:
Send a letter to the editor.
Sign up for the Chatham Chatlist.
Promote your brand at chathamjournal.com.