STOCKHOLM - A U.S. report warning that eating salmon from European fish farms could cause cancer has exaggerated the danger, a toxicologist at Sweden's National Food Administration said Jan. 9.
"There was nothing new that came out of this study," Per Ola Darnerud, a toxicologist at the NFA, said. "They showed the same results as we've seen earlier, and we see no reason to issue a consumption advisory."
The study, carried out by U.S. and Canadian researchers and reported in the U.S. magazine Science, cautioned that salmon from European fish farms contains such high levels of toxic chemicals that eating the fish more than once a month could cause cancer.
"Compared to wild salmon, the levels are obviously higher," Darnerud admitted, though he added that that doesn't mean the farmed fish is dangerous.
The U.S. researchers pointed the finger at the concentrated food pellets that are fed to farmed salmon. The pellets usually consist of ground fish, which thus transfers the toxins of their remains directly into the salmon.
The only fish the NFA advises consumers not to eat too much of is fatty salmon caught in the wild in the Baltic Sea. This is because the Baltic Sea, which has only a narrow outlet to the ocean, contains a much higher concentration of dangerous pollutants than, for instance, the Atlantic off the coast of neighboring Norway.
"Girls and women of childbearing age should avoid eating [Baltic wild salmon] more than once a month," Darnerud said.
But warning against eating all European farmed salmon is a shame, Darnerud said, lamenting that many Swedish consumers had called to ask if they should stop eating fish altogether.
"Many people are very worried about the results, but most of the fears are unfounded," he said.