Salmon is one of the most desirable fish for consumers. Its taste, combined with a high percentage of fat, makes this food a real delicacy for our gourmets. Our taste buds enjoy beautiful with every bite. What they don’t know – and perhaps you don’t either – is that we can find it in the wild, such as in aquaculture on a farm or a salmon farm. Although producers prefer to use the term “aquaculture fish” as it sounds less ugly.

The million dollar question is whether farmed salmon is of lower quality than traditional salmon. Many consumers doubt this when they don’t really know that most of the salmon we consume in Spain comes from aquaculture. BUT rough, fish farming in aquaculture is different in that use a more controlled environment where fish can grow satisfactorily for human consumption.

But, of course, this is a production system designed for us to eat them, as is the case with intensive animal husbandry on land. And this has its pros and cons. However, its defenders classify it as much more stable systemsince production is better controlled and mass harvesting is avoided, which can destroy the species.

Is farm-raised salmon eating worse?

If you approach this issue from a nutritional point of view, the truth is that no significant differences between traditional salmon and farmed salmon. All of its nutrients are very similar and may differ slightly depending on the food and some environmental variables. Approximately for every 100 grams of salmon, there are about 12 grams of fat and 18.5 grams of protein. This makes it a highly recommended food in the diet, just like other fish. Do not be alarmed by its high fat content, as it is not harmful to health. In contrast, the omega-3 polyunsaturated fats found in salmon are essential to the body, as they interfere with our nerve and brain functions.

Fish aquaculture generally allows better control of all fish processes. This is what is known as traceability. In this sense – and although there are no significant differences in nutrition – it can be said that farm-raised salmon offers higher food safety guarantees as much better control over what the animal eats.

A very specific example is the parasite Anisakis simple. One that probably sounds familiar to you. Well, aquacultured Atlantic salmon is one of the few fish species whose risk of harboring this pesky parasite is negligible to health authorities such as the EFSA (European Food Safety Authority). This does not apply to other fish species where caution is required due to the danger of this parasite. Let’s remember that anisakis only bothers marine fish, as it lives in the sea. Salmon are fish that live most of their adult lives in the sea, but also enjoy fresh water in a process known as “spawning” where they travel up rivers to lay their eggs.

Its characteristic orange color, by the way, is given by astaxanthin and is due to eating small crustaceans such as krill and some algae when the salmon is in the wild. On the other hand, there is no free consumption of other sea creatures in fish farms, and the orange color is achieved by adding these pigments to the feed through fish oil and fish meal. This issue is controversial in terms of sustainability, so more environmentally friendly alternatives are increasingly being sought. One of these could be the use of insects to feed fish, which some companies in the sector are already exploring, such as Tebrio, a Spanish mealworm farming company. Tenebrio molitor.

Do aquacultured salmon have toxins?

Recent digital information is warning of the presence of persistent organic pollutants (POPs) in aquacultured salmon, cataloging the fish as a dangerous alternative due to its greater association with obesity and diabetes. The best known POPs are dioxins and PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls) due to their common association with environmental and food pollution. As expected, many environmental associations cried to the sky, demanding answers. But what is true in this? Does farm-raised salmon really contain these toxins? Let’s see how the research went.

First, the studies cited by many environmental sites date back to 2011. Come on, the studio is over 10 years old. They don’t seem very up-to-date, as in more recent years we can find over 2,000 scientific studies by searching “farmed salmon” in Pubmed, one of the world’s major scientific databases. If we refine the search further, we will find more than a dozen post-2011 scientific papers that have already debunked the fear of POPs in aquacultured salmon.

For example, this 2014 study is literally titled: “High consumption of farm-raised salmon does not alter the status of persistent organic pollutants (POPs) in human plasma and adipose tissue.” It was done in humans as a randomized clinical trial, so it provides a very interesting level of scientific evidence. There is also another more recent comparative study from 2017 that found lower levels of POPs in farmed salmon than in wild salmon. This shows that persistent organic compounds are present in all environments, including the seas, and do not interfere with aquaculture. Despite this, POPs levels were within acceptable limits what the European Union notes, so this issue should not be a cause for concern.

Additional research limitations for farmed salmon

However, if we look at the 2011 scientific study, we see that it was done on mice. Which is already an interesting signal that tells us that its results must be taken with tweezers. The reason is that we cannot seriously extrapolate their findings to human models. This is one of the pillars of clinical research: animal studies, unfortunately, do not provide conclusive evidence. However, we have no choice but to conduct them because sometimes some studies cannot be done on humans for ethical reasons.

But here we get into another mess that doesn’t matter, so let’s get back to research. In addition to performing on animals, the study did not compare farmed salmon to wild salmon. any time. The mice were fed exclusively farm-raised salmon. Some feed fatter, others less, but always farmed salmon. Wild salmon were not seen and were not expected. Therefore, it was not possible to compare on an equal footing to know if it had a higher or lower proportion of POPs. This is the icing on the cake. In short: a lot of noise against farmed salmon, but few hard conclusions.

Certainly, it is enough to do a quick search in scientific databases to make sure that farm-raised salmon is no problem with respect to persistent organic compounds. At least not more than wild salmon. However, the legal restrictions set in the European Union are respected, so we do not need to worry about this. Eat salmon in peace if you wish, it is a healthy and completely safe food.

Source: Hiper Textual

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