Whether you’re trying to deal with your self to a breakfast garnished with smoked salmon, or planning to serve up pre-dinner appetizers of sliced smoked salmon atop crackers, purchaser beware: When it involves the claims made on smoked Atlantic salmon packages and web sites, manufacturers are sometimes simply blowing smoke.
Popular smoked Atlantic salmon manufacturers entice customers with guarantees like “premium,” “all pure,” “tremendous contemporary” and “wholesome and nutritious.”
Some manufacturers declare their merchandise are “sustainably sourced.” On the difficulty of animal welfare, one proprietor of a number of smoked Atlantic salmon manufacturers claims on its web site that the corporate’s strategy to fish well being and welfare is “second to none.”
It all sounds nice to the patron. But right here’s the true deal: All of those smoked Atlantic salmon merchandise are constructed from salmon raised on large industrial fish farms, and in some instances, nowhere close to the Atlantic Ocean.
In truth, business fishing of Atlantic salmon—a species as soon as considerable within the wild however now practically extinct—is prohibited within the U.S. In the Gulf of Maine, they’re even protected below the U.S. Endangered Species Act. Similarly, in Canada, wild Atlantic salmon within the Bay of Fundy (positioned within the Gulf of Maine) are protected below the Accord for the Protection of Species at Risk.
That means all Atlantic salmon bought to customers in meals shops and eating places—whether or not contemporary, frozen, or smoked—comes from industrial salmon farms.
Which begs the query: Would you contemplate salmon sourced from an industrial fish farm, the place the fish are crammed into web pens or big land-based tanks, “all pure?”
How about if the salmon’s food regimen consisted of a cocktail of chemical compounds (to stop sea lice infestations) and antibiotics—like terramycin, florfenicol and sulfamerazine—deemed extremely vital for human well being, by the World Health Organization?
Would you suppose that salmon raised in floating manufacturing unit farms which threaten marine life and habitats by discharging issues like heavy metals, antibiotics, pesticides and untreated fish waste into the ocean may very well be in truth marketed as “sustainably” or “responsibly” produced?
Here’s a wild concept: Unless the label in your smoked salmon contains the phrases “wild” or “wild caught,” (phrases you’ll discover on Sockeye or King salmon, however by no means on packages of Atlantic salmon), there’s in all probability nothing “pure” or “sustainably sourced” about it.
We took a have a look at some in style manufacturers of smoked Atlantic salmon, and the product claims made by the businesses behind these manufacturers. Health-conscious customers, together with those that additionally care in regards to the setting and animal rights, might wish to suppose twice about taking these claims at face worth.
Blue Hill Bay—what’s in a reputation?
Blue Hill Bay is the title of a bay close to Acadia National Park, in Maine. The bay is described as being in style for its “extensive open stretches of protected water” and being positioned in an space “acknowledged for its pure magnificence,” a lot of which is “additionally preserved for wildlife.”
If you have been a shopper, you’d in all probability like the concept your salmon got here from such a gorgeous, pristine physique of water, proper?
As it seems, Blue Hill Bay smoked Atlantic salmon is owned and bought by Acme Smoked Fish Corp., which doesn’t even have operations in Maine.
A family-owned firm, Acme operates three smoking amenities: one every in Brooklyn, N.Y., Pompano Beach, Florida, and Wilmington, N.C. Acme additionally operates its personal manufacturing facility, in Chile, which the corporate mentioned provides Acme’s U.S. smoking operations “management of uncooked supplies.”
For Acme, “uncooked supplies” means salmon. And a “uncooked materials” facility in Chile can imply just one factor: an industrial salmon farm.
Chile exports about $5 billion of farmed salmon yearly, most of it branded “Atlantic Salmon” regardless that Chile’s coast is on the Pacific Ocean. (“Atlantic” on this case refers back to the species. Farmed “Atlantic” salmon is raised from hybrid inventory). According to this November 2019 report, on Chile’s salmon farms, the fish are “crammed into football-field-sized enclosures,” the place chemical compounds and antibiotics are used to maintain yields excessive and forestall illness outbreaks.
According to a 2017 report by Oceana, Chile’s salmon farmers could be making use of “extra medicine per ton of meat than some other fish or livestock trade on the earth.” That makes industrial fish farming an enormous contributor to the worldwide antibiotic-resistance disaster, which the U.S. Centers for Disease Control says causes as much as Three million infections and 48,000 deaths annually—and that’s simply within the U.S.
Unfortunately, in relation to seafood, the U.S. Country of Origin Labeling regulation applies solely to contemporary seafood. And the regulation places the onus on the grocery store, not the provider, to inform customers the place the fish got here from.
Consumers who look to the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Guide for recommendation on how one can purchase responsibly sourced salmon, gained’t discover smoked salmon manufacturers listed. However, they’ll discover this:
“Farmed Atlantic salmon is a ‘Good Alternative’ from the next sources: 1) Maine; 2) British Columbia, Canada; 3) Scotland’s Orkney Islands; 4) the Faroe Islands; 5) Verlasso and Blue Circle Foods manufacturers; and 6) worldwide when produced in indoor recirculating tanks with out wastewater therapy.”
Could this be why Acme named its smoked salmon product after a bay in Maine—to benefit from this in style seafood information’s advice?
It’s vital to level out that the Monterey Bay information follows the above assertion with this warning:
For these sources, most environmental impacts (or the danger of impacts) are rated average considerations. . . When Atlantic salmon are farmed in recirculating methods with out wastewater therapy, the feed elements are the most important concern, and effluent, chemical compounds and illness are additionally rated average considerations.
Apart from deceptive customers to imagine Blue Hill Bay Atlantic salmon is fished out of a bay on the Atlantic ocean, the corporate states on the bundle—not as soon as, however twice—that the farmed-fish product is “all pure.”
Acme sells different manufacturers of smoked salmon, together with “All Natural” Nova smoked Atlantic salmon (additionally presumably raised within the firm’s Chile-based farms), and Ruby Bay smoked Atlantic salmon.
Acme’s Ruby Bay model (Ruby Bay is in New Zealand) is licensed natural below EU laws that set natural requirements for industrially farmed fish. The laws set requirements for issues like most stocking density. The regs additionally specify that biodiversity “must be revered and doesn’t permit the usage of induced spawning by synthetic hormones.”
In the U.S., the U.S. Department of Agriculture has not established natural requirements for farmed fish, although discussions have been ongoing for years. The U.S. Food & Drug Administration does publish a listing of Approved Aquaculture Drugs. It’s a doozy—and once more, raises the query: Can fish consuming these drug cocktails actually be “all pure?”
Ducktrap River of Maine—sourced from Chile?
Ducktrap presents a wide range of wild and farmed smoked salmon merchandise. Popular smoked Atlantic manufacturers embody Ducktrap Kendall Brook and Ducktrap Spruce Point, each of that are made with farmed fish—and each of which make the “All Natural” declare on the packaging.
Ducktrap manufacturers additionally embody “All Natural” “Made in USA” smoked Atlantic salmon, and Ducktrap Organic Smoked Atlantic salmon (licensed to EU natural requirements). Both manufacturers, bought at Walmart, are sourced from industrial farms—that aren’t within the “USA.”
Unlike Blue Hill Bay, Ducktrap River of Maine does no less than have operations in Maine, however these operations are restricted solely to smoking. The Atlantic salmon Ducktrap imports for its smoking operations is sourced, as said on the corporate’s web site, from “our personal farms in Scotland, Norway, Iceland and Chile.”
What Ducktrap River of Maine doesn’t publicize on its packaging and web site is that the model is owned by Norway-based Mowi, the world’s largest producer of Atlantic salmon merchandise, together with smoked Atlantic salmon merchandise.
It’s maybe not shocking that Ducktrap doesn’t brag about its connection to Mowi, an organization that’s had its fair proportion of unhealthy press. In February, based on this report in Salmon Business, 1.5 million juvenile salmon died in Mowi’s model new hatchery in Northern Norway, probably from acute sulfur poisoning.
The sulfur poisoning information got here only a month after Mowi had revealed that in late 2019, greater than 74,000 salmon escaped from certainly one of its industrial farms in Scotland, posing a risk to the world’s wild fish shares. It was the third main escape in a 12 months’s time.
Still, Mowi hasn’t been capable of completely defend its Ducktrap model. The model is known as in a category motion lawsuit filed in opposition to Mowi and different Norwegian industrial fish farms for conspiring “to drive up the costs of farm-raised Atlantic salmon in an ‘unprecedented and unjustified’ scheme that resulted in file earnings.”
That hardly appears like a quaint little firm doing enterprise in Maine.
Mowi’s web site is loaded with claims about how the salmon utilized in its merchandise, together with Ducktrap River of Maine, are “all pure,” “100% pure” or produced “all naturally with no synthetic elements or preservatives.” Those claims are at odds with what most customers would count on from a product produced with pesticides, antibiotics and different medicine.
Mowi additionally claims to be “main the blue revolution,” and says it’s “very happy with producing meals that’s wholesome for individuals and good for native communities and the planet.”
But that characterization is at odds with scientists who describe the crowded fish farming strategies utilized by firms like Mowi as “hectic high-density situations” that far exceed what salmon would expertise within the wild.
In truth, situations at Mowi amenities in Scotland have been rated by OneKind, a Scotland-based animal welfare group, as among the trade’s worst resulting from untimely mortality charges, sea lice infestations, stress ranges, overstocking, genetic deformities and escapes, and different elements. OneKind ranked Mowi total because the second-worst farmed fish producer on animal welfare.
True North—making unfaithful product and apply claims?
The True North model of smoked Atlantic salmon is the one one of many three manufacturers we checked out that doesn’t incorporate any Maine-specific references in its model title. Yet oddly sufficient, it’s the one one which sources its salmon from Maine-based operations, together with industrial salmon farms and processing vegetation.
True North is owned by Canada-based Cooke Aquaculture, which operates industrial salmon farms off the coast of Maine, and likewise in Canada, Scotland and Chile.
On its web site, Cooke says this:
“Our obsession with scrumptious, contemporary seafood has been in our DNA ever for the reason that day our ancestors started fishing the waters of the Bay of Fundy six generations in the past. Like our grandparents, we’re proud to spend our days residing and dealing alongside our neighbors and pals in coastal communities. Fishing is in our blood. It drives us to innovate – to remain true to you, the setting and true to ourselves. It’s our guideline. It’s our ‘True North.’”
Somebody’s grandparents might have truly fished the waters of Bay of Fundy again within the day—however no one at Cooke Aquaculture is definitely “fishing” for Atlantic salmon, within the Bay of Fundy or anyplace else, lately.
The actual story behind Cooke’s “fishing” operations in Maine was revealed on this undercover video, “Sea of Suffering,” the place certainly one of Cooke’s industrial amenities was described as a “filthy setting” creating the “good situations for fungi and parasites.”
The video, produced in October 2019 by the animal welfare group, Compassion Over Killing, reveals staff speaking about spinal deformities and fungal infections. According to at least one individual within the movie, the filthy situations imply that the salmon need to be vaccinated, which “stresses them out” a lot that it takes a couple of week for the fish to begin consuming once more.
But you gained’t learn any of that on the True North or Cooke web sites. You additionally gained’t learn the information about how final 12 months, Cooke was ordered by the Maine Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to pay a $156,213 effective for having too many fish in a number of pens, failing to conduct environmental sampling, and failing to observe a wide range of clerical procedures that embody well timed submitting of full and correct air pollution sampling studies and well timed submissions of fish spill prevention plans—all violations of the corporate’s working allow, DEP guidelines and state regulation.
Instead, you’ll examine how Cooke “ . . .began with pure, contemporary fish.” And this:
“For us, staying true to the ocean is how we keep true to ourselves, our group, and our future. And that’s why we fish and farm with care – to make sure long- time period social, financial, and environmental sustainability.”
And on packages of True North smoked Atlantic salmon, you’ll learn how the product is “sustainably farmed within the clear waters of the Gulf of Maine.”
All three manufacturers—Blue Hill Bay, Ducktrap and True North—are nationwide manufacturers, in that they are often bought on-line. Some are bought regionally or nationally in retail grocery shops.
But all make labeling and advertising and marketing claims which are deceptive if not downright false. The best choice for customers: Go wild.
Katherine Paul is affiliate director of the Organic Consumers Association (OCA). To sustain with OCA information and alerts, join our e-newsletter.
More on industrial salmon farms:
Farmed Salmon = Most Toxic Food within the World
Factory Farmed Salmon Full of Disease and Hazardous Chemicals
Farmed Salmon Contaminated With Synthetic Tire Chemical