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Imported Salmon Report – A Good Reason to Go Fishing

October 24, 2008

Boise, ID – What may be labeled fresh salmon, may also be served up with a side of parasites, bacteria and antibiotics. A report on salmon farming from the Pew Environment Group calls for increased oversight because of health risks, especially in fish from other countries.

Salmon is popular in Idaho, and for those who can't catch their own, farmed salmon is readily available. However, the study shows those fish commonly contain high levels of antibiotics and toxins, rendering them unhealthy to eat.

William Hubbard, retired associate commissioner for the Food and Drug Administration, says only a fraction of a percentage of imported salmon is safety-checked, while an even-smaller fraction of overseas processing facilities and farms are ever inspected by the FDA.

"Despite the fact that FDA has often found seafood contaminated by illegal drugs, bacteria, and filth, the program has not been strengthened in recent years. It's getting weaker."

FDA food safety funding is not keeping up with the burgeoning amount of imported salmon and other seafood, according to Hubbard.

"FDA is incapable of testing it and inspecting it. Most of our seafood is coming into the country essentially unchecked by the FDA."

The FDA has stated in the past that seafood safety inspections do follow agency guidelines.

Salmon farming practices also can damage nearby rivers and oceans because of waste discharge, says Hubbard, since sickened farm fish can escape and spread disease. The report points to farmed salmon from Chile as having the most problems.

More information available at www.puresalmon.org.

Deborah Smith/Elizabeth Grattan, Public News Service - ID