You may think that the package of ‘wild’ salmon you just picked up from the store is legitimate, but chances are it’s not. It’s highly likely that ‘wild’ Atlantic salmon was actually raised in a salmon farm in China. And salmon farms in China could be full of health risks.
From Farm to Table
Salmon farming is the production of salmon from egg to market within a closed cage environment. Typically they’re about the size of two football fields and house a large number (500,000-750,000) of fish in each. This creates poor living conditions and overcrowding.
Up to 43% of salmon labeled ‘wild’ is actually farmed, with China producing nearly 80% of the world supply of farmed seafood. China isn’t the only country that does this, however, as North America is home to many as well, but the health regulations are less tight in China.
A study done by Kimberly Warner, Ph. D. involved testing 82 salmon samples from restaurants and grocery stores. The results showed farmed Atlantic salmon was being sold as wild caught salmon.
The reason for this is the U.S. exports roughly 70% of wild salmon, often to China since it’s cheaper to process. Then it’s shipped back to the U.S., but there is no process to track its origin. Imports back accounted for 78% of 4.7 billion pounds of seafood in the U.S.
Overall, farmed salmon is found to have twice the calories and fat of wild, could contain more chemicals, dyed with food coloring agents to give it a pink color and might be raised on GMO food. So avoiding it is in the best interest of your health.
How to Avoid
Buy salmon in season
Salmon is in season between May-September. Warner’s study found it to only be mislabeled 7% of the time as opposed to higher in the winter.
Color and fat
Wild salmon has a darker pink color as opposed to farmed. It is also less fatty as farmed fish will have thick white stripes of fat.
Look carefully at where it says the fish is coming from. Labels that say ‘prepared for’, ‘packed by’ or ‘imported by’ and don’t state the country of origin should be purchased cautiously.
If you happen to live near the coast, fresh fish from nearby is a lot easier to get. But for those of you not near the coast, try to avoid buying frozen fish.
Wild salmon is healthy and a great source of vital nutrients, but farmed salmon can almost negate those benefits. Make sure you’re getting the best quality and stay in the know about what goes on your plate at the end of the day.
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