The overwhelming majority of Norwegian farmed salmon are fed with fish pellets manufactured with the toxic carcasses of fish and eels from the extremely-polluted Baltic Sea. Briefly, these fish that are deemed unfit for human consumption and are ground into a paste and cooked down, with a fish meal and oil as the end products. PCBs are highly concentrated in the oil, along with dioxins and other toxins. So the end result is poisonous fish pellets that are fed to diseased fish (due to their severely overcrowded pens and parasitic infestations) which are then spayed with pesticides, further polluting the fish farm and surrounding ecosystem. PCB and dioxins are found at levels up to 16 times of that of wild salmon and other seafood. In fact, if those levels were found in wild salmon, the EPA would restrict its consumption, but since farmed salmon is “bought” not “caught” consumption is not restricted at all.
Maybe you’ve heard of PCBs, but are unsure of their threat to human health. So here’s the deal … banned in the US in 1976, they’ve since been added to a group of the dozen most-hazardous, cancer-causing chemicals on Earth, which together make up up the Untied Nations’ “dirty dozen” list, which are to be phased out under the UN’s Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants.
Another substance which is added to those fish pellets (and ends up in the fish) is a synthetic antioxidant and pesticide called ethoxyquin (thanks once again, Monsanto), which in this case is employed as a fat stabilizer. Ethoxyquin is classified as a harmful substance and banned as a pesticide in the EU, and in the US it is prohibited as a direct food additive for human consumption, though it is approved for use in pet foods in both the EU and US. Hence, we have ethoxyquin-tainted fish pellets, which are consumed by farmed salmon, which end up with 10 to 20 times the residual amounts permitted in any other meat. It’s interesting that, while ethoxyquin limits exist for all other meats sold in the EU and US, there are zero limits on levels in farmed salmon, or any other seafood, for that matter. The health effects related to the human consumption of this substance are little-studied (thanks once again, Monsanto), but one researcher found that it may actually be capable of crossing the blood-brain barrier, which is scary stuff indeed.
Long story short, it’s vitally important for your and your family's health that you ASK where the salmon at your favorite restaurant or market comes from! In addition to eating wild salmon while it’s in season, there are a small handful of companies using recirculating aquaculture systems, and other cutting edge techniques to produce relatively “clean” fish, these include brands such as Verlasso, Sweet Spring Salmon, Blue Circle Foods, Atlantic Sapphire and Marine Harvest Canada