Salmon isn’t always naturally pink.
Well, it’s supposed to be. When it is born and raised in the wild, at least. However, when salmon is mass-produced on an aquaculture farm, its natural color is actually an unappetizing shade of dull grey- as a result of what it has been fed. To make it more attractive for consumers and to trick people into thinking it might really be wild salmon, it is sometimes injected with a synthetic pink dye, which can also be given to the salmon through their feed. Disturbingly, there is even a color chart called a “Salmofan” through which wholesalers and fishmongers can actually choose the specific shade they want their salmon to be.
If you find this a bit appetite-killing, it only gets worse. One of the chemicals found in this dye called canthaxanthin, was used in a sun-tan pill in the 1980’s which was then subsequently removed from the market amidst fears it caused eye damage in some users. Although in small quantities it is deemed safe by food authorities in the EU and USA for human consumption, something still feels off…
Seafood Fraud promotes unsustainable and illegal fishing. When disguised as something else, certain endangered species that should not be fished at all or that have been fished using illegal and unsustainable methods, can easily slip into the marketplace. On the other hand, seafood fraud can also give the general public the wrong impression about the availability of certain species. If for example, tilapia which is very cheap and widely available (partly due to the aforementioned aquaculture farms) is sold as cod, consumers can then think that the supply of cod is plentiful, when in fact this is not always the case. Basically, seafood fraud laughs in the face of marine conservationists, and undermines their efforts.
It seems that a “If they don’t ask, we won’t tell” policy is at large when it comes to consumers of fish. Clearly there is a real need for better tracking and traceability systems, and due to the global nature of the problem, proper coordination between countries is needed. Consumers need to know exactly what type of fish they are buying, how, when and where it was caught and if it was farmed or wild.
Shouldn’t we have a right to know exactly what we are putting in to our bodies?