There is a documentary by Nicolas Daniel called “Fillet-Oh-Fish” that takes a very critic look at the fish industry. Fisheries are faced with severe problems like overfishing to chemical pollution as well as genetic mutation from toxic exposures. Aquaculture promotes itself as a sustainable solution to overfishing but fish farms actually cause more problems than they solve.
Farmed salmon is found to be one of the most toxic foods in the world. Why? Norway started looking at the chemicals used in fish farm. Kurt Oddekalv is a respected Norwegian environmental activist who believes salmon farming is a disaster for the environment and human health. Tests show that farmed salmon is about five times more toxic than any other food tested. Mice fed farmed salmon developed obesity and diabetes that researchers believe are related to toxic exposures. Pesticides and antibiotics are used in fish farming with the most significant source of toxic exposure being the dry pellet feed that contains dioxin, PCBs and other toxic pollutants.
The entire sea floor has been destroyed and because the farms are located in open water, the pollution from these farms is not contained. A salmon farm can hold nearly 2 million salmon in a small amount of space and these crowded conditions result in disease. According to Oddekalv, sea lice, Pancreas Disease and Infection Salmon Anemia Virus have spread across Norway. Dangerous pesticides are used to stave off disease-causing pests and one is known to have neurotoxic effects. Jerome Ruzzin is a toxicology researcher who has confirmed Oddekalv’s claims. Farmed salmon contains the greatest amount of toxins of them all.
In keeping sea lice in check the pesticides used also affect the fish’s DNA, causing genetic mutations. About 50% of farmed cod are deformed and female cod that escape are known to mate with wild cod, spreading the genetic mutations and deformities into the wild population. This information is certainly scary and worth avoiding. In one Norwegian fish pellet plant, the main ingredient used is eel, for their high protein and fat content along with other fatty fish from the Baltic Sea. Thus, the Baltic Sea is highly polluted.
In Sweden the fishmongers are required to warn patrons about the potential toxicity of Baltic fish. Government recommendations are not to eat fatty fish more than once a week and if pregnant, not at all. Nine industrialized countries surround the Baltic Sea dump their toxic waste into this body of water.
The most dangerous secret of the fish industry is the manufacturing process of the pellets. Fatty fish are cooked resulting in protein meal and oil. While the oil has high levels of dioxins and PCBs, the protein powder further adds to the toxicity of the end product. They add an “antioxidant” called ethoxyquin to the protein powder, which is a pesticide and strictly regulated. Why is this still being added to fish pellets? A Swiss anti-fraud lab found extremely high levels of ethoxyquin in farmed fish. This product was designed for use on fruits and vegetables but the fish feed industry discovered adding it to the feed prevented the fats from oxidizing and going rancid. How is this helping the population to eat healthier?
Millions of Vietnamese households dump their waste directly into the Mekong River every day. Pesticides used in rice cultivation also migrate into this waterway. Farmers add industrial quantities of drugs and antibiotics into their fishponds—and to those who eat the fish.
One other fact is that even though fish can be one of the healthiest foods to eat, be careful choosing the right type. Fish skins are recycled for use in the cosmetics industry and the remainder of fish waste is washed and ground into a pulp, which is used in prepared meals and pet food. This actually makes my stomach turn to think someone might be ingesting these ingredients. If the product’s list of ingredients includes a fish without specifying that it’s made with fillet of fish, it’s usually made with fish waste pulp. Surprised?
WE tell our patients at New Hope Unlimited that a safe seafood option is to buy wild Alaskan salmon, sardines and anchovies. Most major waterways are contaminated with mercury, heavy metals and chemicals like dioxins, PCBs and other agricultural chemicals that end up in the environment. Get your omega-3 from only wild-caught Alaskan sockeye salmon. Alaskan salmon is NOT allowed to be farmed and is always wild-caught. Smaller fish with short life cycles tend to be better alternatives in terms of fat content such as sardines and anchovies. There is a lower contamination risk and higher nutritional value. Do not buy fish from the Baltic Sea!
Now, in summary, read those labels and go with that fresh Alaskan salmon to get what you need for a good and safe diet.
–Dr Fredda Branyon