Being a co-owner of a supplement company but also a vet leads to a kind of occupational disease, that everything which has to do with animals (and also those who end up as our food), attracts my attention. This internal force never sleeps – to the disappointment of my girlfriend, not even while on holiday and this time, the pretty catchy headline of a German newspaper called “Die Zeit” caught my eye, which said: “how healthy is our fish?”, in this, we mean farmed salmon. Below you could see a nice piece of salmon – nicely arranged, I instantly wanted to go and buy some salmon steaks and put them on the BBQ for dinner, you know this mouth-watering feeling for sure!
Back on the beach, fighting with the horribly big dimensions of that newspaper against the wind, I started to read the article immediately and was really shocked with that whole new world of information opened to me. As mentioned before, I used to work as a vet and the whole problems with stockbreeding and antibiotics is nothing new to me and as everyone else, I´ve seen some documentation about farm-raised salmon on the internet or television, nothing I really liked a lot but nothing causing me sleepless nights after spending hours with friends in an all-you-can-eat sushi restaurant.
The information in that article about farm-raised salmon, which is raw material for a big number of fish oil products, really shocked me and was reason enough to write a short summary about it, to make people stop eating any kind of products made from farm-raised salmon and if a single person will stop buying and cooking this kind of fish on her own behalf or for their kids, I´d be more than happy.
First, we must go back in time to understand, how everything could have gotten so much out of hand:
In the late 80’ies, salmon was only something for rich people, you could find it on the menus of upper-class restaurants. The salmon was wild caught, rich in good Omega 3 fatty acids and a nice source of protein – simply put a great food source. This changed in the 90´ies when salmon farms popped up in big numbers in Norway, the cost price per farmed salmon decreased and the fish made it into supermarkets and restaurants for everyone.
Demand was increasing and so did production – but the sources of food for the salmon (anchovies) decreased, so the salmon industry was facing a big problem. Tricky as they are, they found the solution pretty quick and easy: soy.
Mega farms in Brazil, at the expense of small farmers and rainforest, started to produce soy in a big way – but Brazil is not around the corner from Norway, where all the salmon-farms are located. Let´s ship it – but before, the soy has been mixed with fish oil and fishmeal to pellets. Problem solved? Not really. Soon the industry faced a new problem: when these soy-pellets come in contact with oxygen, explosions could happen – and that´s nothing you really want to have in a ship´s hold. As I wrote before, the industry is never stumped for an answer, whatever it takes to keep the huge profits coming in.
What comes now, was leading to a couple of indignant looks from people around me, because while reading this newspaper I was surrounded by people on the beach – and the curse words which came from my lips would make every old sea dog super proud.
The solution that the salmon industry found has a complicated sounding name, Ethoxyquin. In case that no alarm bells sound in your head, I have another name for you – Monsanto, who produce Ethoxyquin and maybe you have heard about them recently in the media. This US-based company was put to court by farmers, who used Glyphosate – a weed killer/pesticide which was classified by the world health organization (WHO) 2015 as a substance with a probable cause of cancer.
Ethoxyquin works as an antioxidant, and that is great because the ships won´t sink because of exploding soy-fishmeal-pellets, and is furthermore a pesticide, which is increasing our chances of getting cancer and might, according to science, damage our DNA. Because of that suspicions, since 2011 it was banned as a plant protection product and is forbidden as part of any kind of animal food since 2017.
Not allowed as food for chicken, pigs, cows, quails, kangaroo or whatever. It´s NOT allowed.
Some people might think now: “If it´s banned – what the hell is this guy talking about?”. Well, there is one exception – fish food.
Why? I think it´s politics and everyone should create his or her own opinion on that, so if you google: Norway – Ethoxyquin – Salmon, you will find serious reports for sure, which can explain far better than I can, which tricks are used so that pesticides aren’t banned as fish foods.
Members of Greenpeace have bought 45 salmon products across the market over the last 2 years, maximum allowed levels have been exceeded in 75%, in one case the maximum level was exceeded by 17 times.
To summarize it briefly again
- Ethoxyquin: banned for plant protection, banned for use as animal food except for fish.
- Ethoxyquin: probably causing cancer and damaging our DNA.
Honestly? This is insane?! Salmon, praised as THE good and healthy food for kids, for pregnant women? Salmon, we love to eat when we go out for sushi? Salmon, which is used by most fish oil brands as their source ingredient and which can be found in most health stores or pharmacies?
Shame on you – that´s all I can say. Well, I´ll find other words what I think about the people who play with people’s health, but I think this is not the right medium to write them down.
When you choose products with the blue MSC label, you’re choosing wild-caught seafood that can be traced back to a sustainable source.
You don’t need a Ph.D. or seafood guide to choose sustainable seafood. Just look for the blue fish label.
our next article we will tell you why we chose for Wild Alaskan Pollock as the source ingredient for our Omega 3 Fish oil and why it is a sustainable and healthy source.