4 Reasons to Stop Eating Farmed Salmon

When I look at a client’s food diary and they eat fish, the number one choice is nearly always salmon. Why? Because they think that this is the healthy choice. Here are four top reasons why farmed salmon should not on your plate.

1. Farmed salmon is full of contaminants

Most salmon sold in Australia is farmed in Tasmania and unfortunately farmed salmon is given a highly processed high-fat feed . The salmon on these intense farms has been shown to contain high levels of contaminants such as PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls), dioxins and other toxic chemicals that have been shown to cause cancer and developmental issues in children. Various research papers show that farmed salmon also increases the risk of stroke in women, type 2 diabetes, obesity and various cancers.

A 2004 report in the journal ‘Science’ reported that PCB concentrations in farmed salmon is much higher than in wild caught salmon. Ironically these levels are considered safe by the FDA but not by the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency)

Round cages of Norwegian fish farm for salmon growing

2. Farmed salmon has dyes added

Wild caught salmon is a natural, healthy pink colour because of the prawns and krill that is consumed by salmon in the oceans. Farmed salmon is fed an unhealthy pellet and therefore is a natural beige colour. So for marketing purposes (because we all expect salmon to be a luscious red/pink colour right?) farmers add dyes to the feed so they change the colour of the fish from the inside out! A pharmaceutical company called Hoffman-La Roche who produce the pink dyes have developed a colour chart called the SalmoFan, similar to what you would find in your local DIY store when looking at different paints for your house. It’s been noted that the more affluent communities like the darker shades (number 34) whereas lower social-economic groups prefer salmon to be lighter in colour (number 20). Consumer laws in a lot of countries have now made it mandatory for salmon to be labelled with ‘colour added’ stickers so take note of this next time you go to the supermarket.

3. Farmed Salmon is fed soy

The pellets fed to farmed salmon contains an array of unhealthy ingredients including soy. I am not against soy but I do like to know what type of soy I am consuming and the soy found in pellets is going to be cheaper filler food i.e. genetically modified, non-organic soy.

4. Antibiotic Concerns

Farmed salmon is similar to a battery farm for chickens. The fish are crammed into pens and sometimes there can be up to 50,000 fish confined into a small space. This means diseases can be spread and therefore need to be kept under control. It has been reported that in Australia between 2006 and 2008, there was almost 18 tonnes of the antibiotics oxytetracycline and amoxicillin fed to farmed Tasmanian salmon. 


If you’re worried about getting enough omega 3 in your diet, why don’t you look at other oily fish such as wild trout or sardines? If you are vegetarian, chia seeds are high in Omega 3 fatty acids . There are also a wealth of other choices such as flax (seeds, oil), walnuts, hemp (seeds and oil) and soy (organic, non GM, fermented where possible). 

15 thoughts on “4 Reasons to Stop Eating Farmed Salmon”

  1. How do we compare with Norwegian salmon. They have cleaned up their act. For example there is now only 0.36g/ton antibiotica in their aquaculture and for more research look up http://www.fischausnorwegen.de and hit the translate button and you will find the latest research data from the Norwegian Seafood Council NSC.
    There is also strict control of turbo feed and the number of salmon permitted in how large and deep the ponds are.
    Quality should always come before profit. Our health is most important.
    There seem to be also a similiar problem in NZ salmon farming.
    It would be great to have EPA looking closer to avoid having the before mentioned problems escalating

  2. Lilian Fletcher

    After eating a Tasmanian brand of Smoked Salmon, I came out with a painful rash on my face , ears and neck! It lasted a week. The doctors treatment did not help. NO SALMON FOR ME anymore !!!

  3. B. Braithwaite

    I’m a Jehovah’s Witness and it’s extremely important to me to abstain from blood or blood products . I have just been reading about the products being fed to farm salmon which makes it impossible for me to eat this salmon and wondered if you could tell me if there is any salmon available for purchase that has not been contaminated I would be very glad to hear from you.

    1. Perhaps you can look at wild caught salmon (depending on where you live) or other wild caught fish such as wild trout. Trout has a very similar taste. If it is for nutritional purposes you could look at chia seeds and flaxseeds.

  4. I live with in Australia, do you happen to know if you can get wild salmon here?
    So far I haven’t found any.
    Wondering if I should give up looking for it!

    1. Hi Carly, it is possible to find. Apparently this time of year there is some around. And also there is wild caught from NZ (don’t get caught out with the farmed). Alternatively you can get the Canadian salmon here but that has big airmiles. Keep searching.

      1. I don’t believe that the processes have changed over the last few years. Farmed fish is still farmed fish.

  5. Hi Melanie,
    I am reading this article after I became quite ill from eating Tasmanian Salmon. I cooked 2 large pieces for my husband & I recently and during the night I woke up with an absolutely burning throat & a horrid, chemical taste in my mouth. I continuously tried to drink some water, but it wouldn’t go down……..I felt so ill that I went outside to get some fresh air. I started dry reaching & then vomited, the burning pain was unbearable. I then had to sit up for the rest of the night because of the pain. My husband had the burning sensation, but not as bad. The only difference was, he didn’t eat the skin where I did. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to eat salmon ever again!

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