Pureza Fleming

How does salmon get onto our plates?

12 Feb 2024 - 10:00
Salmon raised in captivity is considered one of the most toxic foods in the world: the information is based on various studies and is a consequence of the huge amount of chemicals involved in raising these fish.

The documentary Filet Oh! Fish, made by journalist Nicolas Daniel in 2013 and broadcast on RTP under the title "Fish, Farming in TroubledWaters", confirms this. The result of Daniel's research, the documentary shows the ins and outs of the aquaculture industry, revealing some of the secrets of fish production.

There are many testimonies. In them, scientists confirm, for example, that farmed salmon is the most toxic food in the world. Kurt Oddekalv, a respected Norwegian environmental activist, is Nicolas Daniel's first interlocutor and states that "salmon farming is a disaster, both for the environment and for our health".

A salmon "factory" can contain two million fish in a relatively small space, which results in diseases in the animals. For this reason, farmers use dangerous pesticides in order to avoid pests and also to avoid losing their goods.

The pesticides, in turn, lower the immunity of the fish, which, when sick, are treated with more drugs, including various antibiotics. Norwegian salmon farms thus have deep layers of waste, including excrement, bacteria, drugs and pesticides. In other words, as well as being raised in confinement and crowded together, the salmon are forced to live with their own excrement and a huge accumulation of chemicals, making them toxic fish.


The nutritional content of captive salmon differs significantly from wild salmon.

In addition to environmental pollution and disease, captive salmon also suffer from genetic mutations and other physical anomalies. The "flesh" of farmed salmon is much more "brittle" and prone to falling apart when bent, a characteristic considered "highly abnormal".

In addition, the nutritional content of farmed salmon differs significantly from wild salmon: farmed salmon contain significantly higher fat contents, ranging from 14.5 to 34 percent, compared to 5 to 7 percent for wild salmon.

Although pesticides and pollutants play an important role in the toxicity of farmed salmon, the main source of toxic exposure is the fish feed itself. Dry pellet feed, commonly used in fish farming, contains pollutants such as dioxins, PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls) and various medicines and chemicals.

The fish feed used in particular in Norway's fish industry is made up of eels and oily fish from the heavily polluted Baltic Sea. This contamination occurs because the Baltic receives toxic waste from nine industrialized countries around its shores. As a result, some species of fish that inhabit the Baltic Sea, such as herring, eel and salmon, accumulate higher levels of pollutants, including dioxins.


Although pesticides and pollutants play an important role in the toxicity of farmed salmon, the main source of toxic exposure is the fish feed itself.

Another alarming discovery is the addition of ethoxyquin to fish feed, a pesticide originally created by Monsanto in the 1950s for use on fruit and vegetables. Fish feed manufacturers add ethoxyquin to prevent the oxidation of fats, but its effects on human health have never been studied. Surprisingly, while the European Union regulates ethoxyquin levels in other foods, there are no similar regulations for fish consumed by humans.

This whole reality is replicated on the other side of the Atlantic, on the coasts of the Canadian province of Nova Scotia, as also denounced by the award-winning journalist couple Douglas Frantz and Catherine Collins in their book Salmon Wars. Or as Time magazine also warned in an article published in July 2022, shortly after the book was published.

As an alternative to farmed salmon, the best options are fish such as wild Alaskan salmon, sardines or anchovies. And the smaller the fish, the lower the risk.

In any case, as mentioned above, you can't trust the quality of all wild fish either, as some waters are contaminated with heavy metals (such as mercury) and other chemicals that are harmful to human health. As with everything, it's always best to find out as much information as possible before you buy.