Eat Farmed Salmon? Eating Flesh Eating Bacteria Too?

B. McPherson


Are you one to buy and eat farmed Atlantic salmon? You know, the kind that you can buy in nearly every supermarket and Costco? It comes with a lower price tag than our diminishing stocks of wild salmon. You may get a bonus with the farmed fish – a parasite that can turn fish flesh into mush.

When farmed salmon first hit the supermarket coolers, some people remarked on the cheapness of it while others turned their noses up saying that the flesh was “too soft”. It was speculated that the fish didn’t get enough exercise to develop firm muscles. Then a nasty little secret started to leak out. Some farmed salmon contained a bacterium that turned the flesh to mush. Now, due to a local TV station doing some undercover reporting, it’s no longer an industry secret.

The bacterium is Kudoa thyrsites and it has been described as rather like a time bomb that affects the farmed salmon flesh after the fish has been killed and cut up for sale. This is, of course, different from the viral infection of farmed Atlantic salmon that forced the destruction of millions of fish off the British Columbia coast earlier this summer. This infection is not well understood, but was investigated by the federal biological station as early as 1994 due to its economic impact on the fish farming industry.

Alexandra Morton who has been a tireless campaigner opposing the industrialization of open net fish farms on the coast due to the danger they pose to the wild salmon and other residents of the ocean has led a campaign to force supermarkets to disclose that the product they are selling may be diseased.
The statement released by the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs sounds like good advice.


“Chief Chamberlin concluded “The general public needs to put down their fish farmed sashimi and question both industry and government about what chemical treatments and antibiotics were used to treat that piece of fish farmed salmon to ward off parasites and keep viruses at bay.”
Of course it’s up to consumers to decide what they want to eat and to feed their children. A parent may find that the low price of farmed salmon carries a high price tag in health effects. The salmon farming industry routinely doses their fish with chemicals to keep the crowded fish alive. That lovely pink colour of the flesh may well be the red dye in the fish food. Myself, I’ll become a vegetarian before eating that muck.

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