A study released in the journal, Environmental Science & Technology, found much higher levels of some chemicals in farmed salmon compared to wild salmon. The study concluded that, in spite of the heart healthy benefits of omega-3 fatty acids in all salmon, frequent consumption of farmed salmon is more likely than wild to boost levels of chemicals that researchers have found to be increasing rapidly in people’s bodies.
The study, which is being considered the most thorough analysis of farmed and wild salmon to-date, found in most cases that consuming more than one serving of farmed salmon per month could pose unacceptable cancer risks, according to United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) standards for determining safe fish consumption levels. Farmed salmon were found to have up to 10 times higher levels of PCBs and dioxins than wild salmon.
Farmed salmon is much higher in saturated fats than wild salmon. This can contribute to health problems.
A single serving of salmon, wild or farmed, gives you the suggested daily requirement of omega-3 fatty acids. These essential fatty acids are also found in other wild fish like tuna, sardines or anchovies. Farmed salmon, however, contains more unhealthy fats. Preliminary research also shows that farmed salmon has higher levels of PCBs and other contaminants than wild salmon. Farmed salmon are frequently fed antibiotics which contribute to the growth of drug-resistant bacteria.
Farmed salmon are often given chemical additives in their food to color their flesh pink to resemble its wild counterparts – otherwise, it would remain an unappetizing grayish-brown color.
It takes three to five kilograms of other fish, such as herring and anchovies, to produce the food necessary to produce one kilogram of farmed salmon, resulting in a loss of edible animal protein worldwide.
There are presently over 85 open net cage fish farms operating in the coastal waters of British Columbia producing waste that is equivalent in volume to the raw sewage released from a city of 500,000 inhabitants. It could get a lot worse if the industry is allowed to add new farms.
Editor’s Comment: The consumption of salmon is highly recommended, however, the risk of eating the farmed variety is high and offsets the health benefits. I eat wild salmon at least twice per week. The cost differential is not great and more stores are offering the wild varieties in both their fresh and frozen seafood sections. Choose only wild salmon and you will be fine. Costco, Trader Joe’s, Wild Oats and many national chains sell several species of wild salmon at reasonable prices.