writing to comment on your August 1, 2003 segment with Matt Lauer on salmon, which
I found alarming in the scope and gravity of its dissemination of misinformation.
I was an Alaskan fisherman for more than 20 years before founding my company,
Vital Choice Seafood. As a person seeking to educate consumers about the remarkable
health benefits of consuming wild Alaskan salmon, I have worked hard to become
expert in the field and to help consumers make the important distinction between
wild and farmed salmon.
Alaskan salmon is a sustainably harvested, pure, and completely natural seafood.
It is one of the cleanest, healthiest, and most nutrient-dense foods. In contrast,
farmed salmon is rife with problems, yet demand from unenlightened and misinformed
consumers is fostering explosive growth in its production, thereby damaging precious
ecosystems, flooding world markets, and driving those reliant upon the wild salmon
industry into an economic tailspin.
spokesperson you featured from "Self" magazine was woefully
uninformed, and failed to point out that neither mercury (a potent nerve toxin)
nor PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls a group of carcinogenic/neuro-toxic
industrial chemicals) are a problem in Alaskan wild salmon. She did a grave disservice
to your viewers, and all who attempt to help consumers identify their best seafood
options. Below, Ive listed five major misstatements, along with my corrective
#1: All salmon are contaminated with hazardous levels of PCBsinferred
by the spokespersons failure to make the important distinction between wild
and farmed salmon, as well as the camera shot of several cans of Alaskan-origin
wild salmon during the interview.
Independent tests of wild salmon consistently show them free of harmful levels
of these contaminants. I have personally had our wild Alaskan salmon products
tested on a number of occasions by an independent, state-of-the-art labtests
that NEVER ONCE produced any detectable levels of PCBs. These test results are
available for review.
the Alaska Division of Public Health continues, in their words, to "
strongly recommend that all Alaskans, including pregnant women, women who are
breast feeding, women of childbearing age, and young children continue unrestricted
consumption of fish from Alaskan waters." (Source: http://www.epi.hss.state.ak.us/bulletins/docs/b2001_06.htm)
salmon frequently resides at the top of lists touting safe seafood options. (For
a recent example, see the August, 2003 issue of "Reader's Digest.").
In sharp contrast, farmed salmon have consistently been shown to have levels of
PCBs dramatically higher than those found in any other common protein sourceespecially
when compared with the virtually nonexistent amounts found in wild salmon.
the Environmental Working Groups report on its tests of farmed salmon found,
"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.
levels found in the Environmental Working Groups tests support 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." (Source:
http://www.ewg.org/reports/farmedPCBs/es.php see also the Seattle Post-Intelligencers
story at http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/national/132952_fish30.html)
#2: Both wild and farmed salmon are contaminated with hazardous levels of
Both wild and farmed salmon are relatively short-lived fish free of hazardous
levels of mercury. As the Environmental Working Group reports: "The risk
of mercury in salmon appears to be minimal. In fact, the FDA states that limiting
consumption is unnecessary for salmon."
additional information on this issue, I encourage you to visit the Purity
page of our web site, at: http://www.vitalchoice.com/purity.html. And, a current
Atlanta Journal-Constitution story provides a table of mercury levels in various
seafood species at http://www.ajc.com/health/content/health/special/0803/06fish.html
(scroll to end of page).
#3: Farmed and wild salmon are comparable sources of omega-3s.
As important as getting adequate omega-3s in ones diet is the ratio of omega-6s
to omega-3s. The ratio found in our traditional dietsconsumed throughout
human history, until the past few decades and still considered optimalis
3 to 1. Wild salmon contain this ideal ratio while farmed salmon, due to their
radically different diets, often contain ten parts omega-6 fats to one part omega-3
fats. This difference is vital to the millions of people (your viewers) needing
to restore a healthful balance of these essential nutrients.
unlike wild salmon, farmed salmon contains considerable amounts of saturated fatsthe
kinds of fats associated with higher risk of heart disease.
#4: One would need to eat several servings of salmon a day to get the recommended
amount of omega-3s.
The FDA has not yet announced a Recommended Daily Allowance for omega-3s, but
Canada and Europe have settled on 1 gram combined EPA and DHA per day. According
the USDA nutrient data base, wild sockeye, coho and king salmoncanned, fresh
or frozenall contain more than 1.2 grams of long-chain omega-3s per 3.5
#5: Flaxseed/flaxseed oil is a suitable replacement for the omega-3s found
in fish and fish oil.
Flaxseed contains only short-chain omega-3 (ALA), which is not the biological
equivalent of the long-chain omega-3 molecules found in fish (DHA and EPA). Most
peoples bodies are not very good at converting short-chain ALA into the
biologically active EPA and DHA forms. Consequently, most individuals taking flax
supplements may remain deficient in EPA and DHA. At minimum, they would have to
consume a large amount of expensive flaxseed oiland its fat caloriesin
order for their bodies to produce the required amounts of EPA and DHA found in
far smaller amounts of fish and fish oil.
is especially important for pregnant and nursing women and their developing babies
who have an undisputed, profound need for the DHA and EPA abundant in fatty fish
like wild salmon. EPA-DHA deficiency has been associated with preeclampsia, premature
delivery, low birth weight, underdeveloped brain, neural and retinal systems,
neonatal morbidity, pre- and post post-natal maternal depression, and a number
of other adverse conditions that compromise the well being of the mother and developing
child. Later in the childs life, an EPA-DHA deficiency may result in diminished
learning capacity, mental disorders, attention deficit syndrome, and many other
short, the building materials for developing an optimally healthy child are abundant
in wild salmon. With rare exceptions related to individual circumstances, public
health authorities actively encourage mothers and children to consume this exceptionally
conclusion, should you wish to mitigate the damage done by your August 1, 2003
Today Show broadcast, I would welcome the opportunity to discuss this with you
further and make myself, or others knowledgeable on this subject available to
you. I would also be happy to provide you with personal references, including
Dr. Nicholas Perricone, Dr. Christiane Northrup, Dr. Andrew Weil, Dr. Joseph Mercola,
and other legitimate health and wellness authorities who know me and endorse our
wild salmon products for all the reasons mentioned above.
is indeed Americas "Last Frontier," a pristine and stunningly
beautiful place that yields some of the last remaining truly wild, naturally organic
food on earth. This is a story that is worth telling. Not only would it benefit
your audience, but also the thousands of independent Alaskan fishermen currently
deserving and in dire need of the type of positive publicity your show could offer.
Randy Hartnell, President, Vital Choice Seafood, Inc.