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Watch out for fish, especially fatty, like salmon

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Very interesting documentary. I eat small amounts of salmon and sardines 1-2 times a week, but always buy the alaska sockeye wild caught pacific from Trader Joes. However, on rare occasions, I've been to sushi restaurants. High end sushi joints are supposed source their fish with integrity, but after watching this documentary, I think my sushi eating days are over. FWIW:

https://youtu.be/RYYf8cLUV5E

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What kind of fish are you guys eating to minimize risks? I'd like to give suggestions to my wife. So far I've been suggesting sardines (no mercury, always wild), but apparently they're not devoid of other toxic compounds. 

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Personally, salmon and sardines. But, the key thing is the provenance of the fish. If you eat *any* fish at a restaurant, you simply don't know what you're getting... you might not even get the fish that's stated on the menu. So, I just make sure that I buy it from a place that I trust - in my case Trader Joes - which has protocols in place to check that what they are selling is within safety parameters. A small shop most likely does not test the product from their supplier, as lab tests are expensive. Avoid farmed fish - any farmed fish - at all costs. For salmon, I check that it's wild caught (Pacific, as Atlantic has very little wild salmon for sale), and from an area that's generally been recognized as safe (so far), f.ex. Alaska sockeye. Sardines are smaller and less fatty, and if buy carefully (not from crazy places like the Baltic), you should be fine - TJ's tests their fish, so I rely on that. 

But I am fully resigned to the possibility that as overfishing proceeds apace, one day there may be no more safe fish readily avialable. Since I don't eat very much of it, I am ready to abandon fish eating at that point. YMMV. 

I have avoided fish at restaurants, but still occassionally at at high end sushi places. I am coming around to the conclusion that no restaurant, no matter how high end, can be guarateed to have safe fish, so I think my fish-eating restaurant meals are now a thing of the past. 

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This is stupid.  There's contamination in everything -- definitely including vegetables, which we all eat.  Singling out fish is succoming to Dr. Gregor's prejudices.

That said, yes, of course you should be careful about what you eat.  I would be suspicious of Trader Joe's wild sockeye salmon -- the question  is, how long has taht salmon stayed on the shelf at TJ's?  (Although it's probably alright).  Some fine supermarkets and restaurants here in Rochester sell atlantic farmed salmon; and there is a New Zealand farmed salmon (I forget the variety)  available in my local Wegman's that has won awards for the high quality.

Wild is an advantage -- but doesn't almost mean "better".

BTW, I also recommend Trader Joe's unsalted canned sardines with the skin and bones in spring water -- delicious, lots of omegs 3's, and only slightly over $1 per can!  (Certified Kosher, too.)

? 

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Yes, there is contamination in everything, but according to at least this invetigative piece, the contaminant levels in farmed salmon are drastically higher than the vast majority of foods, vegetables or meats. That is why knowing the provenance of the fish you buy is so important - are you sure you are getting what you think you are getting?

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@TomBAvoider   Thanks for the video link.  I generally agree with your comments about farmed fish,  restaurant fish,  global over-fishing, and the the possible wisdom of abandoning fish altogether at some point.

@Mccoy    We've been discussing cadmium...  I noticed at around 41:05  in the video there is a screen shot of a article (2006) by a Norwegian researcher  (whose work was suppressed)  who found elevated cadmium levels in farmed salmon.  Unfortunately,  my French isn't good enough to do a instantaneous translation of the  full text shown, but the gist of it is easily discernible-- "Nous parlons de fraude pure et simple,  ou les donnees brutes et les recommandations concernant le cadmium sont en cours de fabrication.  [...] Il est evident que pour les chercheurs, l'economie et les ventes de saumon priment sur le sante de gens."

Then again,  the whole thing could be another Russian plot to undermine Europe economically:   "Cette affirmation vient de la Russie, qui a cesse  d'importer sur saumon norvegien depuis  la fin de l'annee derniere.  Les Russes avaient trouve des taux eleves de cadmium et de plomb dans les poissons.  [...]Les Russes étaient suspicieux, mais personne n'a refute leurs allegations. ( This statement comes from Russia, which  stopped importing Norwegian salmon since the end of last year. The Russians had found high levels of cadmium and lead in the fish.  [...]The Russians were suspicious, but no one has refuted their allegations.)

 

 

Edited by Sibiriak

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The oncologist Jean-Loup Mouysset  at 52: 56:   

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Simple advice. Don't eat much big fish, like salmon or tuna.  Not  more than once or twice a month.  You should eat small fish, rich in omega 3's,  if possible.

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I avoid ahi tuna, for exactly the reasons mentioned (and mercury).  

I  don't agree about farmed salmon; as with any farmed (or wild) animal or vegetable, each item must be evaluated independently. Also, I'm not sure what you mean by a large fish -- most salmon are intermediate size; they are never as large as a monsterous ahi tuna (at least I've never seen so large a salmon carcass).

I buy my salmon from a reliable supplier -- the principle Wegman's Supermarket.  I often have salmon from wegman's as sashimi -- half wild sockeye, and half new zealand farmed king salmon.   New Zealand farmed king salmon has won awards, for both sustainability and purity.

To be honest, I don't know of any source of salmon, wild or farmed, of any variety that is polluted (as claimed by Gregor).  My guess is that they exist, but would be hard to find outside the third world.

  --  Saul

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If you watch the youtube link I posted, you'll see the evidence of massive contamination in farmed salmon. And the biggest, though not the only, source is the feed. And it's not just the third world. The feed they investigated was made in Denmark, from fish that are too contaminated for human consumption (from the Baltic), and which then accumulates in massive amounts in farmed salmon in places like Norway. Again, it's not just the third world - watch the piece.

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Can't look at it now -- my wife is next to me, doing some of her NP work from home.

But, anyone can make a video -- I would be highly suspicious.

It IS true that there are some fish farmers who are careless about what they feed their fish (whether that's in the video that you're assuming to be definitive).  You should always be careful what you eat -- e.g., if you eat in a restaurant, be sure that their vegetables, fruits, fish and meats are well sourced.

  --  Saul

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3 hours ago, Saul said:

I  don't agree about farmed salmon; as with any farmed (or wild) animal or vegetable, each item must be evaluated independently. Also, I'm not sure what you mean by a large fish -- most salmon are intermediate size; they are never as large as a monsterous ahi tuna (at least I've never seen so large a salmon carcass).

Saul, I totally agree that each item must be evaluated independently but, sadly, we more often than not don't have any reliable evaluation available. I believe in the quality of your salmon from NZ, but I also believe in the absolute contamination of the norwegian salmon farm filmed in the Youtube video.  Of course, not all Norwegian salmon is  like that. But then the precautionary principle would dictate that we should avoid all farmed norwegian salmon if we don't have any third-party reliable info and analyses on the specific product.

I mean, something like Amphoranueva which imports EVOO and certifies its quality by using an independent lab located in America.

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Hi Tom!

I watched the whole thing, and was underimpressed.   As I noted, any food can be contaminated; you have to watch what you eat.

One noticeable pieace of misinformation:  At the end, the French guy identifies salmon as a "large" fish, similar to tuna (I suppose that he's referring to ahi tuna -- not all varieties of tuna are as large as Ahi Tuna, which is at the top of the food chain).

It is well known that some farmed fish are raised in unsanitary conditions; the vast majority are not.  I'd guess that bacterial contamination in vegetables and fruits is probably higher, on average, than in fish.   That doesn't mean you shouldn't eat vegetables.

Anyway, having wasted an hour watching the Youtube,  I'm about to go to my local supermarket -- the flagship Wegman's -- to but some sashimi (half wild sockeye salmon, half farmed New Zealand king salmon) , and a lovely large salad of fresh raw baby kale, romaine, pickled red onion, edamame, red pepper, raddish and raw broccoli for dinner.

?

  --  Saul 

 

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It is well known that some farmed fish are raised in unsanitary conditions; the vast majority are not.  I'd guess that bacterial contamination in vegetables and fruits is probably higher, on average, than in fish.   That doesn't mean you shouldn't eat vegetables.

I don't know what to tell you. The issue of bacterial contamination, was like, at the bottom of the concerns and problems with farmed fish especially salmon. The biggest problem was the astronomically high organic and inorganic pollutants, heavy metals and pesticides that accumulate at levels that are many, many, many multiples in fish compared to almost any food, certainly any F&V. It is also astronomically higher than in non-marine meats - in no small part because of the quirks of food standards regulations in Europe, where there simply are no fish standards prescribed for many of the pollutants that are strictly controlled in meat. Unsanitary conditions are the least of it, and even the broad use of antibiotics and pesticides to control the problems with overcrowding are not the biggest issue. By far the biggest problem is the feed which seems completely unregulated - made in turn from fish that is banned from human consumption due to appalling levels of pollutants. These all end up as the biggest source of contaminants in salmon - in fact, as you must have seen in those charts, salmon is logarithmically higher in organic and inorganic pollutants compared to any meat, fruit or vegetable. Tested by reputable labs. That's hard to argue against. I'm not sure how after watching this piece your take away was that somehow bacterial contamination is the biggest issue, when it ranks somewhere at the bottom of concerns, dwarfed by everything else or that it is anywhere near the levels of F&V or indeed other meats. But to each his own.

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Once again Tom,  it's just a video; there is very little substantiation or statistical material to back up the many claims.

One of the problems with most of us is the tendency to be fanatically worried about poorly substantiated claims.

As I've noted, I have semiannual bloodwork and usrinework; my serum and urine  Cd, Pb, Hg are vanishingly small.  The only heavy metal is As -- and this is organic As, from plants.

That's some actual numbers for one fish eating CRonnie.

  --  Saul  

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Saul, as much as noteworthy, I'm tempted to say that your case is a n=1 sample, hence not very representative statistically.

Of course it proves that not everyone who eats (farmed+wild) fish exhibits contamination, and that's in a way reassuring. You may have found those providers who source from safe fish and that's good. Not everyone else may be so able or lucky.

Whether the claims on polluted Norwegian farmed salmon are true or not, it should be verified by a dedicated research. One specific article I found would tend to disprove such claims.

Contaminant levels in Norwegian farmed Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) in the 13-year period from 1999 to 2011

Of course, IF, like shown in the Youtube video, even a few farms use high amounts of contaminants, we have no way to discern if the salmon is safe or not, so  back to the precautionary principle, it is reasonable for some people to decide that ALL Norwegian farmed salmon should be avoided, unless a third party analysis confirms that it is not full of contaminants.

And, since we know that some companies let greed prevail, we have no assurance that ANY farmed fish is safe. At our age, we cannot believe in fairy tales.

Bottomline, it's a subjective decision, which of course applies to any food which is suspected of contamination. I, for example, avoid all Chinese food, either organically grown or not. I'm not sure I'm right but i'm applying the precautionary principle based on info available.

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Mark's Daily Apple: https://www.marksdailyapple.com/farmed-salmon/

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What about the drawbacks of farmed salmon, like contaminants?

Even this issue isn’t so clear cut. For example, a 2017 study found higher levels of persistent organic pollutants, metals, and DHA in wild Atlantic salmon compared to farmed Atlantic salmon. [...]

A recent study actually tracked the changes in blood markers of contaminants in response to a high intake of farmed salmon. Eating almost a pound of farmed salmon each week had no effect on blood levels of persistent organic pollutants or mercury.

Surprisingly, European farmed salmon seems to have the biggest contamination issue. Good news, though: a 13-year study of contaminant levels in Norwegian farmed salmon found that toxins are dropping as the years go on.

 

Out of the many reports on farmed salmon,  Mark Sisson choose to cite four studies. The three studies basically exonerating farmed Atlantic Salmon were all written by authors connected with the Norwegian Institute of Marine Research/NIFES ( Havforskningsinstituttet ).  (The study cited by Mccoy above was also written Havforskningsinstituttet -associated authors.)That institute is wholly owned and controlled by the Norwegian Ministry of Fisheries and Coastal Affairs.    The one cited study authored by independent researchers concluded:  "Risk analysis indicates that consumption of farmed Atlantic salmon may pose health risks that detract from the beneficial effects of fish consumption."

Those that actually watched the documentary by Nicolas Daniel posted by TomBAvoider may recall that NIFES was credibly accused of pressuring researchers to falsify data in order to make Atlantic farmed salmon look better.    The Minister of Fisheries at the time,  Lisbeth Berg-Hansen,  who oversaw the work of the Havforskningsinstituttet,  was accused of suppressing research on the Monsanto chemical ethoxyquin,  which is put into fish feed to prevent its high fat content from going rancid.    In the documentary video you can see at 41:54  the logos for the Havforskningsinstituttet and NIFES in the slick fisheries ministry brochure. Later it's revealed that Berg-Hansen had major financial conflicts of interest.  According to Wikipedia:

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Berg-Hansen owns an 8% stake in SinkabergHansen AS, one of Norway's salmon farms, through Jmj Invest AS.[4][5][6]

NMF, a Norwegian environmental group, filed charges against Berg-Hansen in 2009 claiming that her own economic interests prompted her to violate the regulations she’s supposed to enforce.[7][8]

A Nov 7 2013 France 2 documentary accuses Berg-Hansen of single-handedly relaxing the legal levels of toxins allowed in fish in Norway (she sits at the top of all the health advisory committees as well as all related research institutes ...)

 

In 2010 there were calls for Berg-Hansen to resign after charges of corruption and mismanagement. 

http://alexandramorton.typepad.com/alexandra_morton/2010/01/calls-for-norwegian-minister-of-fisheries-to-resign-over-fish-farms.html
 

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... the Norwegian Salmon Association issued this week a press release (in English, Norwegian, Dutch, German and Spanish) headed: "Wild salmon and sea trout alert - Sport fishers need to act now!".   The media release included:
  
"The world known history and tradition of salmon and sea trout fishing in Norway, can soon become just a memory as wild salmon and sea trout are near extinction! A long the coastline of Norway there are 350 million farmed salmon in the cages, the problems caused by this mass, will soon extinguish the 400.000 – 600.000 wild Atlantic salmon searching their parental rivers each year. The way we best can oppose this catastrophe, is simply by not buying and eating farmed salmon!
 
Norwegian salmon farming companies are the biggest and represented in other countries. The start of the business was in Norway and you find very high activity on the coastline. Norwegian governmental officials have promoted this business abroad, and salmon farms are established at more locations. The big problems now showing in Norway are also problems in other countries, perhaps in a smaller, but escalating scale.

The Norwegian Government has lacked the will of empowering stricter business frames for the salmon farming. The economy of the business has overshadowed every other consideration. Today it’s justified to say that Norway is not managing the farmed salmon industry, but the extinction of wild salmon and sea trout!"

 

 

According to Wikipedia,  Elisabeth Aspaker of the Conservative Party took over the the Minister of Fisheries position in October 2013. ("The Ministry of Fisheries and Coastal Affairs is due to be abolished in January 2014, and the minister will then head part of a new Ministry of Trade and Fisheries.").    Meanwhile:

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Lisbeth Berg-Hansen is the deputy chair of the board of the Norwegian Institute of Marine Research,  [Havforskningsinstituttet ]and a member of the board of Aker Seafoods, Fosen Trafikklag, Investinor (formerly known as Statens Investeringsselskap), SOS-barnebyer[1] and Bodø University College.[3]

 

Robin Ørnsrud , one of the group of Havforskningsinstituttet authors  churning out positive studies on Atlantic farmed salmon,  wrote a defense of the use of Monsanto chemical ethoxyquin in fish feed:  "Ethoxyquin in fish feed" (2011)     https://nifes.hi.no/en/ethoxyquin-in-fish-feed/

In contrast, the documentary video (starting around 34:15) shows  scientists at a Swiss anti-fraud lab expressing alarm at the extremely high levels of ethoxyquin they found in farmed salmon.

The Norwegian Seafood Council responded to Daniel's documentary in this statement:

http://www.eishken.at/eishken/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/regarding-the-documentary-filet-oh-fish.pdf

In 2017 the EU suspended use of ethoxyquin in animal feed

https://animalpharm.agribusinessintelligence.informa.com/AP012558/EU-suspends-use-of-ethoxyquin-in-animal-feed

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A widely used feed additive is to be temporarily banned for use in the EU due to concerns that it could have negative impacts on human health.

It's not clear if this temporary ban applies to fish feed.

 

Edited by Sibiriak

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You can bring a horse to the water, but you can't make him drink. All I can do is present the argument and point to the documentary, and of course everyone makes their own decision as it should be. It would be helpful though to actually explore the evidence before making a decision, but that too is something everyone must decide for themselves - after all, we live in a time-constrained world. Personally, I will continue to avoid farmed fish, and continue to closely monitor reports about wild caught fish, ready to abandon all fish consumption if I find evidence of harm compelling. YMMV.

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Saul, as you say one video is not enough, but the info collected by Sibiriak would underline a situation of individual and collective greed in the field of farmed Norwegian salmon. Human nature is what it is and such an occurrence unfortunately is not unheard of in many other entrepreneurial activities.

I also remain nonplussed by the posted reference to Mark Sisson's blog. Sisson almost literally says: Salmon, no matter what!, also with a magnified emphasys on n3/n6 ratio, as if it were the single most important aspect in an healthy dietary regime.

 

 

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Hi Mccoy!

No, I do not say one video is not "enough".  I DO say that a video is not a STUDY.  A carefully researched study with human (or animal) subjects, in large numbers, with several double blind subsets, one of which consists of controls.

A video -- at least, one with zero information that would qualify as a study , is as worthless as a post by Dr. Gregor.

  ?

   --  Saul

 

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Hi again Mccoy!

Concerning blogs -- there are lots of them.  The material in any assertion in a blog is as valuable (or as worthless) as the particular piece of information.

And w3/w6 ratio is important.  If you're a religious vegan, you should consider supplementing fish oil -- or, if eating anything that comes from a fish goes against your principles, then there are vegan w3 supplements that can be purchased.  These are made from some of the algae that sea creatures eat, which creatures in turn fatty fish eat -- they are among the ultimate sources of the desirable w3 in fatty fish.  (My old friend and fellow Rochesterian Curt Fey, who was an orthodox vegan, supplemented his w3's with such a supplement.  He died at age 89.) 

  --  Saul  

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