A recent study has revealed that pricey salmon sold in restaurants as wild-caught is actually farm-raised, especially when purchased during winter months.
The findings were revealed by Oceana, the world’s largest international ocean conservation and advocacy organization, and were published on Wednesday, October 28.
It appears that salmon fraud becomes especially more common as the cold season approaches, and it’s 67% likely that when ordering this type of fish customers will not get what they are actually paying for.
In 69% of those cases, as DNA testing has revealed, farmed salmon is labelled as part of the wild-caught variety, which is considered to be a much healthier option.
More precisely, wild salmon is thought to have around 32% fewer calories, although it contains comparable protein levels. In addition, wild salmon has half as much fat, and a third of the saturated fat content encountered in farmed fish.
Also, there are higher concentrations of iron, potassium, zinc and calcium in wild salmon, in comparison with the farmed variety.
More importantly, farmed salmon is usually grown while jammed into pens, and fed poultry litter or soy, according to Dr. David Carpenter, director of the Institute for Health and the Environment at the University of Albany.
Its nutritional value is therefore diminished, and there are also health risks associated with its consumption, since it’s higher in carcinogens, antibiotics, flame retardants and pesticides.
Given these aspects, the fact that farmed salmon is sold at a higher price tag, as if it were wild fish from the Chinook or Coho variety, is quite harrowing.
This situation is even more baffling when considering that around 70% of the wild salmon caught in America is actually exported because processing costs are lower abroad, and in its place farm-raised salmon has to be imported.
Researchers also analyzed the accuracy of labels found in supermarkets, and it was determined that the risks of buying misidentified salmon are lower there (at around 20%), because of stricter country of origin labeling (COOL) regulations.
During winter however, it appears the probability of mislabelling salmon is greatly heightened in retail shops also, Oceana identifying 43% such errors in 82 salmon samples collected from Illinois, New York , Washington and Virginia between December 2013 and March 2014.
Therefore, study authors recommend consuming wild salmon during its fishing season, which spans from May to September.
During winter, due to diminished supply, it’s much more likely to eat lower-value farmed fish, without even realizing it, and researchers haven’t been able to determine exactly in what stage of the supply chain this misinformation is introduced.
Also, customers should be careful to purchase only traceable seafood, while keeping in mind that lower prices for a supposedly high quality product may suggest that something is in fact amiss.
The findings are extremely important and relevant nowadays, given that salmon is among the most widely consumed fish in the United States, only surpassed by shrimp when it comes to popularity.
In fact, previous research conducted by Oceana has shown that even shrimp is mislabeled around 30% of the time, and the origins of blue crab are also incorrectly stated in 38% of the cases.
In an effort to address such issues, President Obama has initiated a task force in March, for combating illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing, as well as seafood fraud.
The aim is to improve the traceability of seafood, from its place of harvesting or farming, until it reaches the U.S market, in order to boost customer safety and confidence when it comes to such products.
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