Farm-Raised Salmon Now Safe?
Medical Authors and Editors: Barbara K. Hecht,
Frederick Hecht, M.D.
November 3, 2004 -- Earlier this year, a study in the journal Science
reported that 14 different chemical contaminants and pesticides were higher
in farmed salmon than in wild salmon. Since these greater levels of
contaminants and pesticides may correspond to a higher risk of cancer, it
was concluded that farmed salmon are not as safe to eat as wild salmon and
that farmed salmon should not be consumed more often than once a month.
New information on PCB levels in wild and farmed salmon have
recently been reported by the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation
(ADEC) and Salmon of the Americas (SOTA). These data purportedly show farmed and wild
salmon to be essentially the same with regard to PCB levels and both are "a
small fraction of the FDA tolerance."
What should we make of this new
information on PCB levels? Rather than including all species of wild salmon in
the analysis as was previously done, the ADEC only analyzed sockeye and Chinook
salmon -- arguing that these are the fish
consumers buy in stores. For their part, SOTA analyzed salmon farmed in Canada
and Chile. SOTA emphasizes that, "During the time between the collection of the
fish and the publication of (the earlier) study, significant changes in PCB
levels had already occurred." SOTA says that improvements have already been made
in the feeding practices on salmon farms and that these changes are reflected in
lower PCB levels.
We still are not convinced that farmed
salmon is as safe as wild salmon. SOTA is an organization of salmon-producing
companies in Canada, Chile and the United States whose mission is to "improve
health, awareness and dining enjoyment of consumers in North America by
providing timely, complete, accurate and insightful information about salmon on
behalf ot the member companies." SOTA is not exactly an objective participant in this controversy. And SOTA compares
their data to the FDA standards rather than the current EPA standards which are
We hope that the salmon farming industry will continue in its efforts to make
its product safer for the consumer.
Related MedicineNet Links
Last Editorial Review: 11/3/2004