Farmed Salmon Only Once
Every 2 Months To Be Safe
Cancer Warning Over Scottish Farmed Fish

By Paul Brown and Kirsty Scott
The Guardian - UK

Levels of cancer-causing toxins in Scottish farmed salmon are so high that consumers are being advised not to eat more than one portion every two months to safeguard their health.
Some scientists were so alarmed by the findings that they believe that young girls and women of child bearing age would be advised not to eat Scottish salmon at all for fear of causing birth defects and brain damage in their unborn children.
Others argued that the health gains from eating oily fish outweigh the disadvantages.
The research, published in today's Science magazine, which analysed salmon samples bought around the world, including from shops in London and Edinburgh, concluded that salmon farmed in Scotland and the Faroe Islands was the most contaminated in the world. Wild salmon was given a clean bill of health and farmed salmon from Chile and North America, while containing some pesticides and dioxins, was cleaner than that from the North Atlantic.
Some of the most dangerous chemicals associated with cancer - dieldrin, lindane, dioxins and PCBs, now all banned or carefully controlled - were found in samples of Scottish salmon.
The size of the sample was massive, with 594 individual whole salmon purchased and 144 fillets in cities across Europe and North America - a total of two tonnes of fish. The study, by a group of American universities, is the largest of its kind.
The researchers recommended that only a half to one meal of eight ounces of farmed salmon should be eaten a month. More than that and the risk of cancer would be increased by at least one case in 100,000.
In addition to analysing the fish, the researchers looked at the pellet food they were given. The fish food, derived from wild fish caught by trawlers, was found to contain similarly high levels of pollutants.
The problem appears to derive from the fact that the wild fish used to make the pellets are often captured on the bottom of the North Atlantic where rivers wash contaminants into the sea.
By contrast, wild salmon that eat in the open sea had low contaminants.
The research enraged the Scottish salmon industry, which said it took no account of the health benefits.
Julie Edgar of Scottish Quality Salmon, the industry watchdog, said: "They have come to this bizarre conclusion without having taken any consideration of the health benefits of Omega 3 fatty acids that are in oily fish."
The Food Standards Agency was more cautious but said the salmon was within the safety levels set by the World Health Organisation and the European Union. It said that on average in the UK people ate only one quarter of a portion of oily fish a week.
John Krebs, the agency's chairman, said: "We advise that the known benefits of eating one portion of oily fish [a week] outweigh any possible risks.
"There is good evidence that eating oily fish reduces the risk of death from recurrent heart attacks and that there is a similar effect in relation to first heart attacks."
Environmental groups called for clearer labelling so that consumers can tell whether the fish they are buying is wild or farmed, and where it has come from.
Mary Taylor, Friends of the Earth chemicals campaigner, said: "This study shows yet again how the use of persistent chemicals contaminates our environment and food sources, which can be magnified by intensive farming practices. Consumers and retailers alike should be shocked by these findings.
"Better labelling and consumer information would allow consumers to minimise the risks, but we also need to ensure that new chemicals legislation properly protects the environment from persistent chemicals in the long run."
Guardian Unlimited © Guardian Newspapers Limited 2004,7369,1119337,00.html




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