Salmon is one of the most nutritious foods you can eat. It is packed with protein, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and healthy fats. It is also low in calories, tasty and quick-cooking. Little wonder then, that it has become many a fitness buff’s favorite food.
But according recent findings, this healthful food could also expose you to dangerous contaminants including cocaine. Wait, what?
The debate on wild vs. farmed salmon (and other fish) rages on, with each side presenting their talking points. Each has its upsides and downsides.
Except perhaps for organic farmed raised fish, experts are concerned that farmed fish are often raised on unnatural diets. Also, since they are often raised in confined spaces that could breed disease, the farm operators often use antibiotics.
On the other hand, due to pollution in oceans, wild fish have been known to be exposed to toxins and contaminants such as lead, mercury, PCBs and dioxins. And now this “new” threat.
According to a recent study, Salmon caught in the waters of Puget Sound, Washington, contain high levels of certain potentially dangerous chemicals in their tissues. These include cocaine, Prozac, Zantac, pesticides, and ibuprofen. The chemicals were found in water as well as tissues migratory juvenile chinook salmon and resident staghorn sculpin.
Experts deduce that the reason for this high contamination levels is effluent (sewage) water from nearby treatment plant. But why the levels are so high remains a mystery.
What’s worse, these toxins may be affecting waters previously considered “pristine”. Fish tested in the Nisqually estuary, which receives no direct municipal treatment-plant discharge, tested positive for toxic substances.
Should You Still Eat Salmon?
If salmon from the aforementioned area is contaminated, one would expect other seafood to be contaminated as well. And as fish does not usually come with its source clearly labeled – except perhaps for words like “North Pacific Salmon” – avoiding the particular salmon would not be so easy.
Indeed, avoiding fish that contains contaminants altogether is nearly impossible due to habitat destruction and pollution. As for me, I love salmon and I will continue to eat it. But hopefully not from Puget Sound.