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People often ask us about our opinion on wild salmon versus farmed salmon.  People want to know if the negative things they have heard about farmed salmon are true. We believe that farmed salmon does have many adverse health effects and that it certainly can't compete in taste with wild salmon, we want to give you the information you need to make your own informed decision.

We  believe the health benefits of wild salmon speak
for itself. Many health conscious consumershave added wild salmon to their diets. They know about the benefits that natural run Alaskan wild salmon contain, including the recorded levels of Omega 3 oils, the heart healthy wonder found in high concentration inside wild salmon

An important point to know:

Because farmed salmon contain 52% more total fat than wild salmon, the total omega-3 fatty acid content of farmed and wild fish is similar. However, in the case of farmed salmon, the fat is contaminated with PCBs and over 100 other pollutants and pesticides. Frequent farmed salmon eaters may exceed government health limits for these pollutants, which are linked to immune system damage, fetal brain damage, and cancer (Easton et al. 2002).

PCBs in farmed salmon(information obtained from the Environmental Working Group - (just type in "farmed salmon" in the search box and you'll read more gross info about farmed salmon than you ever wanted to know.)

Seven of ten farmed salmon purchased at grocery stores in Washington DC, San Francisco, and Portland, Oregon were contaminated with polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) at levels that raise health concerns, according to independent laboratory tests commissioned by the Environmental Working Group.
These first-ever tests of farmed salmon from U.S. grocery stores show that farmed salmon are likely the most PCB-contaminated protein source in the U.S. food supply. On average farmed salmon have 16 times the dioxin-like PCBs found in wild salmon, 4 times the levels in beef, and 3.4 times the dioxin-like PCBs found in other seafood. The levels found in these tests track previous studies of farmed salmon contamination by scientists from Canada, Ireland, and the U.K. In total, these studies support the conclusion that American consumers nationwide are exposed to elevated PCB levels by eating farmed salmon.

Farmed Salmon Show High Levels of Cancer-Causing PCBs

"U.S. Adults Eat Enough PCBs From Farmed Salmon to Exceed Allowable Lifetime Cancer Risk 100 Times Over" - PSA Rising

       Polluted Fish Farming is not only bad for us but bad for the environment!
Salmon farming has made salmon the third most popular fish in America — and comprises 22 percent of all retail seafood counter sales. Many consumers eat more salmon today to avoid over-consumption of beef and poultry and wanting to benefit from anti-cancer and anti-heart disease properties of oily fish.

However, EWG analysis of government data found that farmed salmon are likely the most PCB-contaminated protein source in the current U.S. food supply.

EWG analysis of state-of-the-art fish consumption data derived from 20,000 adults from 1990 through 2002 shows that roughly 800,000 US adults are 100 times over their lifetime allowable cancer risk by eating this contaminated salmon. - PSA Rising

PCBs are persistent, cancer-causing chemicals that were banned in the United States in 1976 and are among the “dirty dozen” toxic chemicals slated for global phase-out under the United Nations Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants, signed by President Bush on May 23, 2001. Because of their persistence, PCBs continue to contaminate the environment and the food supply.

A number of studies show that farmed salmon accumulate PCBs from the fishmeal they are fed. The feed is often designed to have high amounts of fish oil and is made largely from ground-up small fish. PCBs concentrate in oils and fat, and previous tests of salmon feed have consistently found PCB contamination.

If farmed salmon with the average PCB level found in this study were caught in the wild, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) advice would restrict consumption to no more than one meal a month. But because farmed salmon are bought, not caught, their consumption is not restricted in any way.

This is because the EPA sets health guidance levels for PCBs in wild-caught salmon, and its standards, which were updated in 1999 to reflect the most recent peer-reviewed science, are 500 times more protective than the PCB limits applied by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to commercially-sold fish. The FDA has not updated its PCB health limit for commercial seafood since it was originally issued in 1984. In the intervening two decades new scientific research has shown that the PCBs that build up in fish and people are more potent cancer-causing agents than originally believed, and that they present other health risks as well, in particular neurodevelopmental risks to unborn children from maternal consumption of PCB-contaminated fish.

Artificially Colored Farmed Salmon:
The food and drug administration recently required retailers to label farmed salmon as artificially colored. This led consumers to the misconception that dye was being added to the flesh of farm-raised salmon.

In the wild, salmon get their color naturally when they eat other marine organisms, such as krill, which contain orange-colored substances called carotenoids - specifically astaxanthin (as-tax-an-thin) and canthaxanthin (can-thax-an-thin). Carotenoids are a group of pigments present throughout the animal and plant kingdoms.

Flamingos, for example, also get their pink coloration from their diet which is high in alpha and beta-carotene.

Farm-raised salmon eat these same carotenoids which are included in their feed. The carotenoids are manufactured using the same process used to produce vitamin supplements for humans. The astaxanthin and casthazanthin produced in this way are identical in chemical composition to their naturally occurring counterparts.

     Wild Salmon color - bright red                                    Farmed Salmon color - DULL                                                                Sealice attacking a farmed fish fry

Salmon farms with open cages of densely packed salmon are a breeding ground for parasitic sea lice. Schools of sea lice spread out around salmon farms and infect wild juvenile salmon as they pass by the perimeters of the farms. Sea lice feed on the mucus, scales, and blood of the host fish and can be fatal to salmon, especially to the young fish that are more vulnerable because of their size. For more, read what scientists have to sayabout sea lice and the other environmental problems associated with salmon aquaculture. Or, view a video clipof an expert putting the problem in human terms (" would be the same as you having a fifty-pound lice chewing through your back.")

Advice to Consumers: Eat Wild Alaskan Salmon
Wild Alaskan salmon eat Pacific Ocean fish that are naturally lower in persistent pollutants, and they carry less fat than farmed salmon. When possible, choose wild and canned Alaskan salmon instead of farmed, and eat farmed salmon no more than once a month.

Here are some excellent websites to futher educate yourself about the dangers of farmed salmon and the health benefits of wild salmon:

Ecotrust Web Site:
Farmed and Dangerous Web Site: 
Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch:


  • Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA). 1999. Summary report of contaminant results in fish feed, fishmeal and fish oil. Accessed online July 21, 2003 at
  • Easton MD, Luszniak D, Von der GE. Preliminary examination of contaminant loadings in farmed salmon, wild salmon and commercial salmon feed. Chemosphere. 2002 Feb;46(7):1053-74.
  • Fiedler H, Cooper K, Bergek S, Hjelt M, Rappe C, Bonner M, Howell F, Willett K, Safe S. PCDD, PCDF, and PCB in farm-raised catfish from southeast United States--concentrations, sources, and CYP1A induction. Chemosphere. 1998 Oct-Nov;37(9-12):1645-56.
  • Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI). 2002a. Summary of investigation of dioxins, furans, and PCBs in farmed salmon, wild salmon, farmed trout and fish oil capsules. March 2002. Accessed online July 21, 2003 at
  • Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI). 2002b. Investigation on PCDDs/PCDFs and several PCBs in fish samples (salmon and trout). Analysis and report provided by ERGO Forschungsgesellschaft mbH, Germany. Accessed online July 21, 2003 at
  • Jackson LJ, Carpenter SR, Manchester-Neesvig J, Stow CA..PCB congeners in Lake Michigan coho (Oncorhynchus kisutch) and chinook (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha) salmon. Environ Sci Technol. 2001 Mar 1;35(5):856-62.
  • Jacobs M, Ferrario J, Byrne C. 2002a. Investigation of polychlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins, dibenzo-p-furans and selected coplanar biphenyls in Scottish farmed Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar). Chemosphere. 2002 Apr;47(2):183-91.
  • Jacobs MN, Covaci A, Schepens P. 2002b. Investigation of selected persistent organic pollutants in farmed Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar), salmon aquaculture feed, and fish oil components of the feed. Environ Sci Technol. 2002 Jul 1;36(13):2797-805.
  • National Academy of Sciences (NAS). 2003. Dioxins and dioxin-like compounds in the food supply: Strategies to decrease exposure. NAS Institute of Medicine, Food and Nutrition Board, Committee on the Implications of Dioxin in the Food Supply. The National Academies Press. Washington, D.C.
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service. 2002. USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, Release 15. Nutrient Data Laboratory Home Page,
  • Pure Salmon:

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