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 commentary:
#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
the Alaska Division of Public Health continues, in their words,
. 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 mercury.
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
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
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 oz serving.
#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
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 problems.
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 healthful
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
Randy Hartnell, President, Vital Choice Seafood, Inc.