Food quality and Health

Industrially-farmed Atlantic salmon is marketed as a so-called super food, but it is not good for you. We know that 200g of farmed salmon contains more fats than a Big Mac and medium fries. Factors of greatest concern include:

  • Ethoxyquin (pesticide/herbicide and preservative banned in Europe since 2017) added to fish food to control combustion in transport
  • Use of antibiotics to manage disease in high-density pens
  • High levels of omega 6 fatty acids compared with wild-caught salmon
  • Use of industrial astaxanthin to colour the salmon flesh orange

For more information on this, and the impact of salmon farming on stocks of Antarctic Krill, see our Salmon Farming Methods page.

There are ethical alternatives – read on!

What is Ethoxyquin? Why do they use it?

  • A fish feed additive banned in the European Union out of concerns for health impacts in animals and humans (specifically long living reproductive mammals) has been found in Tasmanian salmon at concerning levels, say experts who are calling for tighter regulations.
  • The compound, a synthetic antioxidant, was developed by Monsanto in the 1950s. It has been used to prevent fish meal from spontaneously combusting while being transported at sea.

What about antibiotics? How do the fish farms control diseases?

Antibiotics - This is Fine?

What about fatty acids?

  • Typically, wild salmon have fewer calories, saturated fat and vitamins A and D than farmed salmon, but contain more protein.
  • Wild salmon meat has an approximately equal amount of omega 6 to omega 3 fatty acid content. In farmed salmon, however, the fatty acid ratio is skewed, with omega 6 much higher than omega 3 fatty acid levels. Omega 6 fatty acid is already overabundant in western diets, especially high in processed foods, and considered by some nutritionists to be unhealthy for humans.

More detail at Healthline and Harvard Medical School.

You are what you eat - This is Fine?

Is it true that farmed salmon are fed artificial dyes to improve their colour?

Used to manage colour in farmed salmon
Used to manage colour in farmed salmon
  • Wild salmon eat a lot of shellfish high in a carotenoid called astaxanthin, which gives them their orange colour. Farmed fish food, as well as wild fish meal, contains increasing proportions of meat, chicken and blood meal, poultry oil, vegetables, vitamins and minerals, which turns the salmon flesh grey. So salmon companies include synthetic astaxanthin in fish feed to produce the orange colour salmon eaters expect.

Support us in stopping this harm!