Salmon has surpassed tuna as America’s favorite fish. As of 2015 Americans consumed nearly 870 million pounds!
But when we purchase salmon in grocery stores or order it in restaurants, do we really know what we’re getting?
The majority of salmon in the U.S., nearly two-thirds, comes from farmed salmon, grown outside the U.S., despite the fact that American fishermen catch enough wild salmon to satisfy 80% of our domestic demand.
Chances are, unless specifically labeled (and even that is not a guarantee), salmon purchased at your grocery store is likely farmed.
Fish don’t often travel in a straight line from fisherman to consumer. At each step in that journey, information about the fish — where it was caught, how it was caught and the exact species, can be ambiguous.
Although the government is taking steps to counter lack of tracking and illegal fishing, the system creates conditions ripe for fraud and mislabeling. There are no traceability requirements in place that will follow a fish from the point where it was caught to its final place on your dinner plate.
A recent study concluded that over 40% of salmon sampled were not what the label claimed it was. Why is this?
The main reasons are: farmed salmon is much more readily available on the market, and is cheaper than wild salmon, creating a higher profit margin to retailers.
If it isn’t labeled, you can’t always be certain without asking the retailer or restaurant. It is always best to ask. However, there are some clues. If the label reads “Atlantic” salmon then it is farmed. If the label simply reads “fresh salmon”, there is a good chance it is farmed.
Most wild salmon will be identified by species – pink, coho, sockeye, spring/Chinook or chum salmon. But Chinook (king, also called spring) salmon are farmed as well so the name is not a guarantee. Always ask. If it’s farmed, don’t buy it! Most canned salmon is wild.
Salmon ordered in restaurants have been found to be five times more misleading than grocery stores. In both cases, mislabeling is especially prevalent during the off-season, with lower wild-salmon stocks.
As you can see, it’s best to go with a sure bet with your salmon purchases, and avoid confusion and possibly fraud. It’s important to you and your family to know exactly what you’re getting.
Both farmed and wild salmon have nutrients we all need, but it is becoming clearer that the risks associated with farmed fish are higher than concern about wild fish.
Unsafe contaminants, including carcinogens, while below the approved USDA tolerance levels, still exceeds levels safe for “frequent consumption.”
If you want to get the many health benefits fish such as salmon provide, your best bet is to keep it wild, and Wild Alaska Salmon is the best of the best!