Do You Know What's in Your Salmon?

Excuse me, is that a chemically-altered Franken-Salmon on your plate?

Salmon is good for you, right? Sure, but only if it’s wild. The fish in the ocean may even pick up a harmless amount of naturally-occurring mercury. But we're not talking about the fish in the ocean - we're talking about the fish you eat.

Meet the Franken-Salmon

Whether with cattle, chicken, pigs, or salmon, American companies are sticking to the formula of raising animals for mass consumption.

How is it done? First, crowd as many of the species in one place as possible to maximize space. Second, feed them corn and soy along with other ingredients. Then, pump the species up with antibiotics to combat the junk diet and crowded conditions. Finally, pretend that this is animal is exactly the same as those raised in natural conditions.

Now, imagine yourself in the grocery store. Which color of salmon would you choose - pink or jailhouse gray? The latter is the color of farm-raised salmon. They don't eat algae or crustaceans and miss out on the carotenoids in their corn soy fish pellets. Not only are the farm-raised salmon gray, but all of those omega 3′s we thought we were getting just don’t occur in similar quantities as they do in wild salmon.

Our Fish Have Bad Diets

When a salmon, swimming around the ocean, eats its normal diet of crustaceans, algae and other sea nutrients, it absorbs the naturally occurring carotenoids and omega oils from them. Carotenoids are pigments that second as potent antioxidants, which are beneficial for the fish and anything that eats them. Just like in carrots and other orange and red foods, carotenoids change the color of the salmon’s muscle, making it a nice pinkish color.

The chemically-based approach to raising salmon is problematic, and two of the biggest issues you should be concerned with are Petrochemical additives and Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs).  

Now You're Cooking With...Petroleum? 

The industry’s solution to the unnattractiveness of gray salmon meat is to add a color additive for a fresher, pinker look. As with most food additives, the two that are principally used in salmon are derived from petroleum. Canthaxanthin and astaxanthin are the petrochemicals used to color our fish so that it looks pretty.

And we buy it! This is nothing new, as similar color additives are used on many of the fruits, vegetables and foods that we buy every day. The FDA says these petroleum-based color additives are fit for human consumption, but I still recommend wild salmon.

More Bad News

It all has to do with the corn and soy fish pellets that farm-raised salmon are eating, but to truly understand what is going on we need to go back to the year 1929, the year that PCB’s were first produced. 

Polychlorinated Biphenyl (PCB’s) were created by man and don’t occur naturally. They were originally used in products such as motor oil, oil based paints and electrical cables... and are known toxins that have been proven to lead to cancer in animals. This fact most likely led to them being banned by the EPA in 1977. Unfortunately, these chemicals won’t go away. They are non-flammable, have a high boiling point, are fat soluble and persist in our environment, especially in the fish pellets that are fed to the salmon.

In 2003, the Environmental Working Group studied farm-raised salmon and found that it is the most PCB contaminated source of protein in the United States.

"If farmed salmon with the average PCB level found in this study were caught in the wild, EPA advice would restrict consumption to no more than one meal a month," according to the EWG study. "But because farmed salmon are bought, not caught, their consumption is not restricted in any way."

Watch What You Eat

We all need to eat real food. The farther a food gets from its natural source, the worse it is for us. We can’t assume that a government agency is going to protect us. We must be vigilant about the foods we eat and stick to the basic principle of Nature First.

Sally Spangler August 05, 2012 at 03:26 PM
Are we really to believe you? You are, according to your by-line a Naturapath - Which I suppose means you are interested in nature and natural (not having been "farmed raised" ) wild animals, fish, organic fowl, and whatever else you claim is your interest. What background do you have to make you knowledgeable on this subject? By the same token a person calling themselves a "vegan" claims to be totally knowledgeable in what is proper to eat, so long as it is not anything with skin on it, fish, fowl or beast. Are you a phd/dr on the subject of what you discourse upon? Or do you, for whatever reason read some "news" on our subject and then transmit to others? Fun, isn't it? To be a pundit on food safety, hoping to have all who read what you say is the truth and we are indeed in danger of food poisoning.
Christopher August 05, 2012 at 03:48 PM
This is an opinion piece in a local online paper, not a breaking news story in a national paper. If you disagree, why not explain why with facts instead of choosing to while away your Sunday morning by ripping into somebody?
Ann H Csonka August 05, 2012 at 05:17 PM
Gathering information and sharing it in a way that local folks might actually READ & LEARN is part of the function of writers in media such as Patch. Food additives are common and get "out-of-control" because of the pressures to produce more food. They involve amazingly complex manipulations. YOU WANT MORE IN-DEPTH INFO? The Univ of Alaska Anchorage's Institute of Social & Economic Research is neither industry nor environmental group with predetermined goals. http://www.iser.uaa.alaska.edu/Publications/greatsalmonrun/SalmonReport_Ch_5.pdf : “Currently, commercial diets for farmed salmon contain either or both of the synthetic pigments commercially available, astaxanthin and cantaxanthin (Buttle et al. 2001). Current research is directed towards developing natural sources of the color enhancement pigments at a commercial scale.” “Environmental organizations and consumer groups have expressed their concerns on the potential deleterious effect of escaped transgenic salmon on wild salmon populations (Reichhardt 2000). Some [in] the salmon farming industry have also expressed...unwillingness to pursue transgenic...production. The controversy surrounding genetically modified salmon will likely continue...." Most of us simply do not have the scientific and technological expertise in biochemistry and other advanced fields to evaluate. A "rule of thumb" to eat food that is as natural as possible is inderstandable. Thanks to Patch for making us think about it!
Brian D. Engler August 05, 2012 at 05:32 PM
In a limited report in 2009, Monterey Bay Aquarium's Seafood Watch concluded that coho salmon farm-raised in closed freshwater tank systems are healthy although these systems represented (and presumably still represent) a minority within aquaculture. (The report is available free on-line here: http://www.montereybayaquarium.org/cr/cr_seafoodwatch/content/media/MBA_SeafoodWatch_USFreshwaterCohoSalmonReport.pdf) Do you think that continued improvement in methods of farm-raising will close the gap you perceive between wild and not-wild salmon? Is it easy for the average consumer to ascertain whether or not salmon offered for sale, if farm-raised, is from the older open marine net system versus the newer closed freshwater tank system? If the source isn't obvious, should it be, and what can be done to make shopping for salmon (and seafood in general) more consumer-friendly?
Sally Spangler August 05, 2012 at 06:29 PM
To my detractors - my thoughts, not yours - but still my thoughts. There is so much said by various people who do not identify themselves as part of the research into foods and other things that "are not good for us - in fact POISON" Unfortunately. after reading all of these articles - opinions are opinions - not necessarily FACTS! Quote, page, chapter and verse and attach a research into the subject and done by who - I will take note and be silent. This is opinion - I have followed with my opinion.
Sally Spangler August 05, 2012 at 06:33 PM
Thank you sir- My bought salmon is both wild and farmed. I know that foods may be adulterated with various colorings to "enhance" the natural colors. But then again, food/drinks are adulterated with various substances to make them taste better, make them sweeter to get us to buy a poor product, but not poison.
Keith Chambers August 06, 2012 at 01:22 AM
A Naturopath aka Naturopathic Physician is an individual that has completed a post-doctoral program in Naturopathic Medicine. This includes four years of clinic nutrition as well as biochemistry. So yes, a Naturopath is a qualified expert in nutrition and nutritional safety. A vegan, however, if simply someone who chooses to consume a diet devoid of animal products.
Sally Spangler August 06, 2012 at 11:18 AM
Thank you all and my apology to Dr. Ogilvie and my detractors. I'll crawl back into my home under the rug! Sally
Chris Ogilvie, Naturopath August 07, 2012 at 12:59 AM
Hello Sally, thanks again for reading the article. What did you think of the info on B-12 I replied with on the last article. I am a Naturopath and just as Mr. Chambers said, it is a doctoral program. I do think I am educated in this area and qualified to discuss it.
Sally Spangler August 07, 2012 at 04:15 AM
Chris - there is somethng about those food pellets that are being fed to all farm raised fish. I see that the popular Tilapia ae beng farm raised in Ecuador of all places. Now they are in Wegman as frozen packets rather than "fresh" fish. Of course the green shrimp available frozen only are also farm raised. Dog gone! I'm not paying the price of beef these days. Pre-roasted chicken is fed the same pellets so as to get them to the store faster. Milk is broken down into it's parts and recombined for whatever they want it to be from skim to "whole milk " We pay royally for all this assistance we get from the food industry! Maybe into the grave from the extra things to make our food "better" I remember when Kellogs used to have no sugar in their cereals, nor did any of the cereals!
Chris Ogilvie, Naturopath August 07, 2012 at 01:18 PM
Sally, interestingly enough Dr. Kellog made that cereal in the 1800's because he wanted to make sure that everyone had a healthy breakfast. Not only did it not have sugar, it had nuts as well. Either way, stick to the wild fish and you'll be better off.
Sally Spangler August 07, 2012 at 03:53 PM
The hardest part of buying and eating only unadulterated food - is to recognize them. The food industry is only interested in the almighty buck! The more they put on the market and the bigger the price! So - will the human race be weakened and poisoned by what the food industry sells us as "good" food? Looks like it. I just finished a bowl of dry cereal with a half cup of milk and a pinch of raisons, chopped dates a slice of candied ginger. Yeah all had some sort of adulterate. Not to mention in the cereal alone has the sugar additive that has been denounced as not good for us. The answer - don't buy anything without reading the label and then don't buy whatever it is. Hmm - do you think that will interest the cereal makers to remove the problem from their product? When fish fly! Yes Dr. Kellog did first make a good cereal. But now. The gentleman has long since gone. He had a good idea, but the corporate body of Kellogs doesn't follow his perscription. $$$$$$$$$ is the only perscription they follow! Very sad!
bob milne September 03, 2012 at 09:36 PM
Here is a portion of Wikipedia has to say. Take note of the Natural designation for Astaxanthin. While astaxanthin is a natural nutritional component, it can also be used as a food supplement. The supplement is intended for human, animal, and aquaculture consumption. The commercial production of astaxanthin comes from both natural and synthetic sources. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved astaxanthin as a food coloring (or color additive) for specific uses in animal and fish foods.[8] The European Commission considers it food dye and it is given the E number E161j.[9] Natural astaxanthin is considered generally recognized as safe (GRAS) by the FDA, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Astaxanthin


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