November 23, 2016


Norwegian farmed salmon safe to eat, says seafood research body


Norway's National Institute of Nutrition and Seafood Research (NIFES) has maintained that Norwegian farmed salmon sold in supermarkets is safe to eat.


NIFES made the assurance after an episode of the national channel NRK's documentary programme "Brennpunkt" was broadcast on Nov. 10, taking a critical look at the Norwegian aquaculture industry and seafood research. Using Brennpunkt as its source, the Norwegian newspaper Dagbladet also accused "independent researchers" of cheating.


"One of NIFES' main tasks is to check Norwegian farmed salmon for undesirable substances, in order to ensure that the fish people eat is safe. And our analyses show that it is safe, as they have done for many years. Norwegian farmed salmon is safe to eat", NIFES said in a statement posted on its website.


NIFES said it analyses more than 12,000 farmed salmon annually for relevant undesirable substances such as medical residues and persistent organic pollutants. "The salmon that is analysed is ordinary farmed salmon, the same type sold in the supermarkets. That is important to underline".


'Only for research'


NIFES also admitted that it used the so-called designer salmon only for research purposes and not when checking that Norwegian farmed salmon is safe to eat. "[T]his designer salmon has nothing to do with our monitoring of the farmed salmon that is available in supermarkets and on people's dinner tables", it emphasised.


It said the designer salmon that Brennpunkt subjected to critical scrutiny was used in its project called Fish Intervention Studies (FINS), and was given to school pupils. "It is a type of salmon that has been given less dietary fish oil, and that therefore contains less marine omega-3 fatty acids and lower levels of dioxins and dioxin-like PCBs," it said.


It said Brennpunkt claimed that this fish contained lower levels of dioxins and dioxin-like PCBs because the ordinary farmed salmon found in the supermarkets was not safe enough. "That is not the case. Supermarket salmon is safe to eat. We 'designed' the salmon so that it would not contain unnaturally high levels of marine omega-3 in order to ensure that the research would be relevant when the results of the FINS study were published. The project started in 2013, and was intended to last for four years", NIFES explained.


NIFES said the project has so far proved to be successful, claiming the FINS salmon contains 9 mg/g of marine omega-3, whereas the salmon found in the supermarket contains 11.4 mg/g, although consumers may find levels that are both higher and lower than this. "In terms of both marine omega-3, dioxins and dioxin-like PCB, the so-called designer salmon from FINS is already readily available in supermarkets," it said.
Rick Alberto
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