« March 2010 Table of Contents
Target's big move
February news includes omega-3 fatty-acid
By April Forristall
March 01, 2010
There was no shortage of seafood industry coverage in the
mainstream media over the last month, mostly due to the news
that the United States' second-largest discount retailer had
banned farmed sal-mon from its shelves.
Media outlets across the nation, including the San Francisco
Chronicle, Baltimore Sun, Oregonian, LA Times and just about
every print and TV media source in Alaska, covered Target's
move. Environmental groups like Greenpeace and restaurants
including Oceanaire applauded the decision in blogs.
February's seafood news also included headlines about
omega-3 fatty acids. Blogger, nutritionist and personal trainer
Lindsey Mathes was compelled to share the health benefits of
omega-3s in a column in South Carolina's Gaston Gazette. But
good comes the bad: She warned readers of the health
dangers associated with farmed seafood.
"You need to know that, unless you buy fish raised in the
wild, all other fish, considered 'farm-raised,' contain
contaminants such as mercury, PCBs
Someone needs to tell Mathes and her readers that wild fish
most certainly run the risk of containing both methylmercury
and PCBs. But studies show that contaminant levels in both wild
and farmed fish are so low that they do not pose a health risk
Target's announcement brought more discussion of the
farmed-versus-wild debate, as well as seafood
Food writer and ABC News correspondent Steve Dolinsky
attended the annual Seafood Summit in Paris in early February
to figure out the meaning of sustainable seafood. His
"reporter's notebook" gave the industry insight from a layman's
point of view into the complexity of how seafood achieves a
"Now I see why Target pulled the plug on farmed salmon. It's
not that all of the salmon raised in open net pens is bad -
although there has been evidence here showing that there are
plenty of issues with farm-raised fish.
"So now I'm thinking, 'OK, so wild fish is probably the best
way to go, at least when it comes to buying sustainably-raised
product.' But then someone shoves a flyer in my hands, telling
me that the wild sockeye salmon from Canada's Fraser River has
been endangered for years, and that the Marine Stewardship
Council is planning to certify the fishery there as sustainable
anyway. I'm still not convinced farm-raised salmon is all that
good for the environment. What I have learned here is that we,
as consumers - and food professionals - need to be diligent and
continue asking questions about the sources of our food. Who
knew that shopping for fish could be so political?"
Numerous media outlets picked up on a study that found
omega-3s slow the biological aging process. However, the
majority of news sources that ran the story gave it a headline
that could make readers think fish oil is the new Botox.
TheMedGuru.com boasted, "Omega-3 fish-oil supplements prevent
North Carolina's Huliq News called fish oil "the long lost
fountain of youth," while the real issue is that omega-3s aid
the recovery of heart disease patients. Sources like these need
to be careful - while headlines such as those can get people's
attention, they may lose it once they realize they're reading
an article about health benefits and not beauty treatments.
A few other news outlets, including San Diego's North County
Times, Reuters and Science Daily, delved deeper into the study.
Instead of referring to the "anti-aging benefits," Science News
said: "Robust omega-3 levels protect the ends of chromosomes
from damage, which suggests a benefit against age-related
diseases." The article also highlighted another recent study on
the use of omega-3s in sepsis patients.