Why Farmed Salmon Isn’t Good for You

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May 10, 2003 | 28,022 views

Three large supermarket chains are facing a lawsuit for selling farm-raised salmon with artificial chemicals that was not labeled as such.

Eight consumers are behind the unprecedented lawsuit, which charges Albertsons, Safeway and the Kroger Co. with "deception, unfair business practices, breach of warranty and negligent misrepresentation in the sale of farm-raised salmon."

The consumers said they would not have purchased the salmon had they known about the chemical additives.

Wild salmon eat creatures like shrimp and krill, which contain chemicals that make salmon pink. Since farm-raised fish do not eat a natural diet, their flesh would be gray if not for artificial additives.

The chemicals used to turn farm-raised fish pink--canthaxanthin and astaxanthin--are found in nature and are not harmful, according to an industry official. The salmon are turned pink to make them more marketable, since many consumers prefer fish with the traditional pink color.

Federal and state law requires that farm-raised salmon be labeled as such, however the grocery chains named in the suit allegedly failed to list the chemical additives on the label.

Further, there is "significant controversy" over the effects of canthaxanthin, as it has been associated with retinal damage in the human eye.

Seattle Post-Intelligencer April 24, 2003

Several weeks ago the FDA agreed with the EPA and now recommends that all pregnant women avoid fish as up to 10 percent of them have high enough mercury levels to cause neurodevelopmental defects in their children.

Mercury is a poison and needs to be avoided. The same report made it very clear that most of the mercury we have in our bodies is indeed from fish.

Again, I am not saying that this justifies putting silver fillings in your mouth. Mercury silver fillings are toxic and ideally should never be placed in anyone’s mouth. However, more people suffer from the mercury from fish than the mercury from their fillings.

Last year I was contacted by a fisherman from Alaska who said that the salmon he offered was virtually free of mercury and other toxins, was not farm-raised but caught in the wild using conscientious "sustainable harvesting" techniques, and contained no contained no artificial chemicals like the coloring agents discussed above. He was particularly compelled to contact me with this information, he said, after hearing me recommend avoiding all fish because dangerous levels of mercury were showing up in all types from all sources--farmed, ocean and freshwater.

Naturally I was very skeptical about the claim, but he even flew all the way here to Chicago to convince me to give his salmon a try. I had one of my team-members order some of the salmon independently, and then we sent it out to a professional lab to get tested for mercury and a host of other toxins.

While I awaited the results, my staff and I tried the various cuts of wild red Alaskan salmon this fisherman's company offered--filets, smoked, lox and more--in various recipes. We all agreed: the salmon was utterly delicious. And so when I got the report back from the lab, I almost fell out of my chair with excitement--the salmon was also indeed virtually free of harmful mercury and the other toxins, as this Alaskan fisherman had claimed.

And so this Vital Choice brand salmon is the only fish that I eat now. It comes from cold, pristine and very select waters up in Alaska, and has a firmer texture and better flavor--and is of course much safer-- than the salmon you'll find in grocery stores. Of course it's very high in omega-3 that will help prevent disease, optimize weight and live longer, and its a good source of protein. Find out more about Vital Choice salmon, and consider trying some today.

Another cost-effective solution to get the omega-3 with the essential DHA and EPA fatty acids found in fish that your body needs--but which most people are seriously deficient in, increasing their risks for disease and more--would be to routinely use krill oil.

As I said last year when I commented on farmed fish:

Well, for all of you who want to have the health benefits of fish, you can be assured that nearly all of the restaurants that serve you fish are serving you farm-raised fish.

This is the first good reference I have found to what the fish are actually eating. When you eat a farm-raised fish, you are nearly eating the same type of meal as eating beef. The fat content of the fish can be no different from what they are fed.

As the above article states, these fish are fed corn meal, soy and canola oil. When the fish are fed these foods, the concentration of their fats turns far away from the ideal, beneficial 3:1 omega-6 to omega-3 ratio to a ratio far closer to the 20:1 found in commercially-raised beef.

One way to improve your omega 6:3 ratio is to change the type of meat you are eating. Since I can't recommend fish due to their high levels of mercury and other toxins these days, the best meats are those raised primarily or entirely on grass diets. Nearly all cattle found in grocery stores and restaurants are grain-fed before slaughter, so if you eat this type of beef, it will typically worsen you omega 6:omega 3 ratio.

Though it may sound unusual to some, two of the best meats on the planet--in terms of nutrition value and their incredible taste--are bison and ostrich. And on Mercola.com, I offer bison meat and our exclusive omega-3-rich ostrich meat, both of which are free-ranged, fed primarily grass/alfalfa diets, and contain no antibiotics or steroids. Whether from my site or elsewhere, I urge you to try bison and ostrich.

You can also consume a more "gamey" meat like venison, or try grass-fed beef, which I also highly recommend on Mercola.com. The grass-fed beef I recommend is even higher in omega-3 than fish, with a 6:3 ratio of 0.16 to 1 (this information is from a study done at Iowa State University in August 2001). It is still hard to find in grocery stores, however, and unlike bison and ostrich--which both taste like prime beef--some find the taste of grass-fed beef too lean.

Related Articles:

Why You Should Be Concerned About Eating Salmon

Mercury In Your Fish

Learn How Mercury Is Affecting You and the Ones You Love

Where's the Real Beef?