Thursday, April 17, 2008


Where'd your salmon come from?

Speaking of tainted food: it’s not just from China. Salmon from Chile is questionable as well:

Safeway, the third-largest supermarket chain in America, has restricted some purchases of farm-raised Chilean salmon over concern about a virus that is killing millions of fish there.

The supermarket chain decided late last month to stop buying from its Chilean supplier, Marine Harvest, because Infectious Salmon Anemia, or the I.S.A. virus, was “impacting the quality of the product,” Brian Dowling, a Safeway spokesman, said this week. Mr. Dowling said the virus, which does not pose a risk to humans, was nevertheless affecting the size of the salmon, “which impacts the quality and the taste.”

Seafood menuChile, of course, is saying that the problem is the fault of the Marine Harvest company, and is limited to their farm. But the Times reported on this in more detail a few weeks ago, and cited “charges from biologists and environmentalists” that the techniques used in fish farming in general are bad, and “court disaster.”

Do you know where your fish comes from, anyway? We have no labelling requirements in that area, so most fish, at least in the stores where I buy it, is not tagged with its origin. And you might think that some tags mean more than they do — a salmon species can easily be confused with its source. Consider the menu photograph to the right, taken recently in a restaurant in Las Vegas (click to enlarge). Note the item that says, “Atlantic Salmon   British Columbia, Canada


lidija said...

That menu entry is hilarious! And though they don't have to disclose, most groceries do tell you where the fish is from or if it's wild or farmed (in my experience).

scouter573 said...

There's another way to tell (roughly) where you're getting your salmon from: the price. Around here, fresh farmed salmon is under $10/lb in the grocery store while the fresh wild salmon (from California right now) is over $30/lb. You don't think the farmed BC salmon is affecting or infecting the wild salmon, do you? Couldn't be.

By the way, it's harder and harder to find truly fresh salmon. So much of it is "fresh salmon - flash frozen at sea". I don't understand "fresh" salmon that comes from a freezer, be it at sea or on land.

Barry Leiba said...

Yes, I learnt a few years ago that despite some fish being labelled "previously frozen" and other "fresh", the "fresh" ones might have previously been frozen. Go figure.

I guess it's as Basil Fawlty says to the customer complaining that the peas he'd said were fresh aren't: "Well, they were fresh when they were frozen!"