Grow Youthful: How to Slow Your Aging and Enjoy Extraordinary Health
Grow Youthful: How to Slow Your Aging and Enjoy Extraordinary Health

Farmed fish is dangerously toxic

Most fish is now farmed

Farmed salmon - the most toxic of all

Baltic fish - not suitable for human or animal consumption

Toxic fish feed

France as an example

Are you buying fish or fish waste?

Is any fish safe to eat?

References

Most fish is now farmed

Did you know that most fish that you buy in supermarkets is now farmed, in fact it is quite hard to purchase wild fish caught in safe, unpolluted waters?

Fish farming promotes itself as a sustainable solution to overfishing. However, aquaculture is similar to cruel feedlot cattle and pig farming and battery poultry farming where animals are kept in tiny body-holding cages and fed a diet that they would never eat under normal conditions. The animals are not able to exercise at all. Their bodies are so tightly constrained that they become extremely stressed. They are not able to breed normally and nurture their young. Feedlot animals quickly become ill, many physical changes occur, and they look quite different to healthy wild animals.

Fish farms are just water-based feedlots. A salmon farm can hold upwards of 2 million fish held in a relatively small amount of space. Diseases spread almost instantly because of the dense overcrowding. When it comes to the sustainable production of fish, fish farms actually cause more problems than they solve. The fish farm business is booming, because most people have no idea that farmed fish is even worse than meat and eggs from land-based feedlots.

Farmed salmon - the most toxic of all

Nicolas Daniel (1) examines fish farming in Norway, Denmark and Vietnam. There is no reason that other fish farms and factories across the globe should be substantially different. He begins in Norway, with respected Norwegian environmental activist Kurt Oddekalv looking at the chemicals used in fish farms.

Oddekalv believes salmon farming is a disaster both for the environment and for human health. Underneath the salmon farms located in many Norwegian fjords, there is a layer of waste up to 15 meters thick. It consists of fish excrement, teeming with bacteria, drugs and pesticides. In the Baltic Sea, large areas of the sea floor are dead, polluted and destroyed. Salmon farms are located in open water, so the effluents, toxic chemicals, pharmaceuticals and other pollution are not contained.

He says that sea lice, pancreas disease and infectious salmon anaemia virus have spread throughout Norwegian fish farms, but the sale of these diseased fish continues unabated and consumers are not informed of the diseases or the pesticides and other chemicals used to treat them. A number of dangerous pesticides are used to try to contain the sea lice and other pests, including one that is known to have neurotoxic effects on humans.

The high concentrations of pesticides used also cause genetic mutations in the fish. According to Oddekalv, about 50% of farmed cod are seriously deformed. Salmon and cod have escaped from fish farms, interbred with wild fish and are spreading the genetic mutations and deformities into the wild populations.

In addition to being contaminated, farmed salmon have other abnormalities. They contain 14.5% to 34% fat, compared to 5% to 7% in wild salmon. Many toxins accumulate most readily in fat, which is another reason that farmed salmon contain far more toxins than wild fish. The flesh of farmed salmon is brittle, and tears and breaks easily.

The more fatty the fish, the more the pollutants are absorbed. They also move up the food chain into the biggest predatory fish, and the oldest fish. A kg of tuna or salmon is much more toxic than a kg of small fish. Remember, farmed fish have 3-5 times the fat level of wild fish.

Fish used to be considered a health food, but Oddekalv says that today's farmed salmon are one of the most toxic foods you can possibly buy! After testing a variety of different food groups sold in Norway for toxins, toxicology researcher Jerome Ruzzin confirmed that farmed salmon contain the greatest quantity of various toxins by a huge margin. He said that farmed salmon is five times more toxic than any other food product he tested.

Ruzzin explained that in a number of animal feeding studies, mice fed farmed salmon grew obese, with thick layers of fat accumulating around their internal organs. He feels that the high rates of obesity prevalent in the world today are related to the increasing number of toxins and pollutants we're exposed to through our food and environment. He has stopped eating farmed salmon.

Obesity is not the only risk. The mouse studies showed that they also developed diabetes. Cancers, hormonal upsets, brain and nerve problems and a variety of other ailments are also significant risks.

Baltic fish - not suitable for human or animal consumption

The Baltic Sea is one of the most polluted seas in the world. For decades, the Scandinavian timber industry has dumped high levels of dioxins into the sea, which is not flushed into the larger oceans of the world. Dioxins bind to fat, which is why herring, eel and salmon are particularly vulnerable and end up accumulating higher amounts than other types of fish. Dioxins cause cancers and hormone problems, even at very low levels.

Baltic fish are now so toxic that in Sweden fishmongers are required by law to warn their customers not eat fatty fish like herring or salmon more than once a week, and if pregnant, fish from the Baltic should be avoided altogether.

Toxic fish feed

Research shows that dry pellet feed is the most significant source of toxins in farmed fish, even greater than pesticides and antibiotics. Fatty fish from the Baltic is often too toxic for human consumption. Rather than stopping fishing or discarding the fish, the most polluted and toxic of these Baltic fish are used to make fish feed pellets. Fish feed usually contains dioxins, PCBs, dieldrin, aldrin and a number of other drugs and chemicals. The main ingredient in fish feeds is other fish that are not suitable or profitable for human consumption. For example, in one Western Denmark fish pellet plant, the main ingredient turns out to be the sand eel, valued for their high protein and fat content. They also use other fatty fish from the Baltic Sea.

To manufacture fish pellet feed the fatty fish are first cooked, producing solid fish protein and fish oil. Fish pellets are made from the protein, oil, and an antioxidant called ethoxyquin that prevents fish oil from oxidizing and going rancid. Ethoxyquin was first registered by Monsanto in 1959 as a pesticide. Its use in agriculture is strictly regulated and limited. Unfortunately there are no regulations governing its use as a fish food - somehow it escaped regulation because it was designed for use on fruits and vegetables. Fish meal often contains 10 to 20 times more than the 50 mcg per kilo allowed in food in the European Union. Ethoxyquin also works as a pesticide against sea lice and other parasites.

What is quite extraordinary is that the effects of this chemical on human health have never been established. There are no published studies showing that it is safe to use. The one and only study ever done on the effects of ethoxyquin on human health was a PhD thesis by Victoria Bohne in Norway. She found ethoxyquin can cross the blood brain barrier and may cause cancers. Rather than publishing her findings, she was forced out of her government research job after attempts were made to falsify and discredit her findings.

France as an example

In the last fifty years, French people have more than doubled their consumption of fish, with fish now exceeding both beef and chicken. France imports fish from around the globe to meet demand. Most of it is farmed; rarely will you find wild fish caught off the coast of France.

The biggest sellers are lesser-known and less expensive fish species. A decade ago, panga was unknown in France but today it is one of the ten most popular fish. Its low price makes it the top seller for school lunches. Is it safe?

Vietnam produces 95% of the world's panga in large-scale fish farms that cause environmental and health problems to both the producers and the consumers. Farmed panga grow two to four times as fast as those in the wild, reaching adult size in about six months when they are harvested and processed. They wash the fillets in polyphosphates - a chemical that facilitate freezing and causes the fish to soak up water and artificially increase their weight. After processing, panga lack both taste and odour.

Many panga farms are located next to the Mekong River, one of the most heavily polluted rivers in the world. Pesticides from surrounding rice cultivation flow into the river, and millions of Vietnamese households dump their waste directly into the river each day. Green algae and bacteria proliferate, and the waters have low oxygen levels. The fish produced in these farms are stressed, polluted and prone to disease.

To combat the diseases, fish farmers add massive quantities of chemicals into their fishponds, including several antibiotics. The bacteria are increasingly drug resistant, which forces the farmers to keep increasing the antibiotic dosage.

Are you buying fish or fish waste?

Virtually nothing is thrown away today. At less than 15 cents per kilo, fish waste is a key ingredient in processed foods. Fish heads, carcasses, offal and tails are turned into a mash that is used in many prepared fish dishes and pet food. If a product's list of ingredients includes fish without specifying that it is a fillet, it is usually made with fish waste pulp. Fish skins are also recycled for use in the cosmetics industry.

Fish fraud is endemic. Investigations have shown that one in three fish labels claim to be an expensive fish when they are actually a cheap species. Sometimes farmed fish are labelled as wild - a particularly difficult fraud to prosecute.

Is any fish safe to eat?

Today, most fish is too contaminated to eat frequently - several times per week. This applies even to wild caught fish, especially if it comes from the Baltic Sea or waters around many parts of Asia. Are there any safe sources of fish, especially to get your omega-3 requirements?

Wild-caught Alaskan sockeye salmon are a delicious and nutritional fish, and their benefits probably still outweigh any contamination because the ocean off Alaska is not as badly polluted as many other seas, and because the sockeye salmon has a relatively short life cycle. In addition, it does not feed on other, already contaminated fish.

Small fish with a short life cycle, which are close to the bottom of the food chain, are also a safer option. Sardines and anchovies are a good choice, as is herring and fish roe (caviar).

It is becoming more difficult to find wild, free-ranging, natural-diet animal foods, but perhaps that is the way it always was and we are just returning to normality. In other words, feedlot raised animal products are ridiculously cheap because they are not what they appear to be, wholesome real foods.

If you buy canned fish, get it packed in spring water rather than olive oil or any other oils, because all packing oils are substituted and not fit for human consumption.

References

1. Nicolas Daniel. Fillet Oh Fish. YouTube documentary, 54 minutes.