Food Talk And Fabulous Finds - Salmon safety

View Full Version : Salmon safety

06-22-2006, 01:00 PM

Does anyone have a reliable guideline for how much farmed salmon it is safe to eat? I have been trying to find more information, but can't find consensus. Some things say no more than once per month, others say it's ok once per week, and some say that because the benefits outweight the risks, it's ok whenever. (I know wild salmon doesn't have the PCBs, but my market doesn't usually have the wild and I have to settle for farmed.)


06-22-2006, 01:40 PM
I haven't been able to find any one, definitive answer - although in the research that I've done, the majority of opinions favor no more than once per month. If the farmed salmon is all you can get, then I guess you have to decide what you're most comfortable with - I, personally, wouldn't feel OK having it as often as once a week.

Have you tried asking if they will bring in wild salmon on special order? I live in a coastal area, so we're lucky to have access to both fresh and frozen wild - I do know that some smaller, inland markets don't want to stock the more expensive wild salmon thinking that it might not sell. Perhaps if they had a guaranteed sale of what they brought in the market might be more willing to help you out? Salmon freezes really well, so even if you bought a lot it could be worth it provided you enjoy eating it :)

06-22-2006, 02:34 PM
Hi, this is the only place I found where it said once a month:

Other articles just say that farmed salmon have PCB's in them, how much depends on where they salmon is farmed. I did read that canned salmon is almost always wild Alaskan salmon.

My kids love salmon but it is so expensive to buy wild salmon. I have been thinking of making salmon patties for them.

06-22-2006, 02:46 PM
From what I understand, too, the study that showed the higher levels of pcb's was done at a time when farmed salmon were fed primarily fish and fish oil. Now their feed contains a lot more vegetable matter and the levels are supposed to be much lower.

Personally, I don't worry about it too much. I don't eat salmon every day, but I do eat it probably 1 or 2 times a month. However, I am a grown woman in my mid-late 30's. I would probably worry a bit more if I was feeding small children... but then anymore I'd probably worry about any food I was giving small children. :(

06-22-2006, 03:16 PM
My nutritionist recommended that I switch to something like anchovies or sardines, but I am having a hard time getting excited about those alternatives. (Besides, anchovies have so much sodium.) The problem is that I love salmon and would eat it every day if I could. I'll keep trying to sweet talk the guy at the fish counter to get some wild salmon in for me. I hadn't thought about freezing it. Good idea, Susan.

06-28-2006, 03:52 PM
I bought a bag of frozen salmon from costco... I have been eating it about once a week. Is it bad? I never knew there were any risks with it!

06-28-2006, 04:07 PM
Well, here's an article. It seems balanced and agrees with other articles I've looked at recently:

on it you'll find a link to the original study.

Personally, I don't sweat it too much, things have changed a bit in how the salmon are raised in response to the study and more farmed fish is coming from Chile, which does not have the same pcb levels (their salmon is said to be closer to wild salmon).

06-28-2006, 04:38 PM
For my fish choices, I look at Seafood watch from the Monterey Bay aquarium. I use it as a guideline for healthy and environmentally responsible choices. Not to say that I'm perfect but it gives me a good idea which fish are better than others. I used to buy Salmon from Costco but stopped because it advised against farmed salmon.

Seafood guide A-N
Seafood guide O-Z

Here is what it says about farmed salmon specifically:

Health Alert
Salmon farmers may use pesticides and antibiotics to control outbreaks of disease among the fish. When consumers eat this fish, the residues from the chemicals may affect their health or interfere with medicines they’re taking. The Environmental Defense has issued a health advisory for Farmed salmon due to high levels of PCBs and dioxins. For more information, visit their Ocean's Alive web site.

Salmon are farmed in open pens and cages in coastal areas. Waste from most farms is released directly into the ocean. Parasites and diseases from farmed salmon can spread to wild fish swimming near the farms. And feeding farmed salmon actually uses more fish than it produces, which puts more pressure on wild populations. Farmed salmon generally uses three pounds of wild fish to grow one pound of farmed salmon.

Segments of the salmon farming industry are improving their practices but the environmental impact is still increasing because production has risen more than 400% in the last decade. In the market, there is currently no way to tell which salmon are coming from more-sustainable farms, so for now we ask you to avoid farmed salmon and choose wild-caught salmon instead.

06-28-2006, 04:58 PM
Farmed salmon was a staple at my house. It was about $3.99/pd a year ago and has crept up to 5.99/pound at Sam's club now. BUT Wild salmon is ON SALE (when it's available at all) for 12.99/pound! I'm going to eat the farmed much less frequently, and eat a whole lot more chicken and turkey breast. :(

Unfortunately, my son and husband loved the salmon, too. We're all feeling deprived.

Suzanne 3FC
06-28-2006, 05:04 PM
I only buy wild salmon. Kroger often has it on sale, so the prices aren't too bad, but it's still not something we eat often. I also buy it at the local health food store. Something I've had problems finding is wild shrimp. I hate the idea of farmed shrimp which is all you find in the supermarkets, but the only fish market we had closed down.

Another concern is carbon monoxide that is used to treat fish to make it pink. It preserves the fish color, but doesn't preserve fish, so it can mask spoiled fish. It's been banned in many countries, but is becoming quite common in the U.S.

06-28-2006, 08:33 PM
Ah, you all make me feel guilty for having a freezer stocked with wild salmon - all caught by my DH! :) But, if you're willing to get a larger amount, you can buy Alaska wild salmon from Alaskan dealers over the internet. Just do a search on Alaska wild salmon. One place I saw even had free shipping. And I saw silver (Coho) salmon steaks for as low as $6.95. And yes, most canned salmon is wild caught, though it's nowhere near as good as frozen imho.

We have a saying here "Friends don't let friends buy farmed salmon." :lol: