What's In Your Salmon?
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November 3, 2009 – KPBS sent two salmon samples, wild and farmed, off to a lab for fatty acid testing. The results just came in, and you may be surprised by the amount of fat in those healthy fish dinners.
Related story: What's In Your Salmon?
Hello Everyone. I'm Wendy Fry, Web Producer here at KPBS. I've been researching fish as part of our special series on food. More than half of all the fish we consume comes from a fish farm. That means the fish was born, raised and fed in a net not far off the coast. You've probably heard that fish, especially salmon, is rich in omega-3's an essential fatty acid. Omega-3's are good for your heart and may even help prevent Alzheimer’s disease. There is a debate among scientists about whether farmed fish has the same amount of omega-3's as wild. One local grocery store's Web site even claims that its farmed salmon has twice the omega-3's as its wild salmon. We wanted to put those claims to the test. A few weeks ago, I packed up two fish samples, one wild and one farmed, bought at that same grocery store. We sent them off to a lab in Portland, Oregon for testing. Chemists there analyzed the two samples for DHA, DPA, EPA and omega-3's-- all fatty acids essential to human health. The results are in. The farmed salmon DID have more omega-3's, BUT you have to eat almost four times the fat to get those nutrients. In fact, the chemist who conducted the tests said he was SHOCKED by the amount of fat in the farmed salmon. Matt Johnson told us the farmed salmon he tested was 15 per cent fat compared to four per cent in the wild salmon. Johnson said the results were enough to discourage him from eating farmed salmon. You can view the complete fatty acid profile of both fish samples on our Web site www.kpbs.org. By the way, that's not all we've found out. Wait until you hear what we’re feeding farmed fish. That’s next week here on KPBS.org/food.