Updated: Jan 20, 2021
The name “Farm-Raised” may conjure an image of a pristine pond, fed by a crystal clear spring on Farmer John’s “back 40”.
But nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, aquaculture – the name given to the industry that produces farm-raised fish – produces some of the most contaminated fish on earth.
By the way, if you think you're safe by purchasing "Atlantic" seafood, think again. Virtually all Atlantic seafood sold in the U.S. is farm-raised. If it doesn't say "Wild-Caught" on the label, it isn't and you don't want to eat it.
Consider these facts: • Farmed salmon contain 10 times more carcinogenic toxins (PCBs, dioxin, etc.) than wild salmon, according to a study published in the journal Science. • Eating more than one meal of farmed salmon per month contains enough PCBs to raise cancer risk significantly. • Farmed fish are administered more antibiotics by weight than any other “livestock”. • Seven out of 10 pieces of farmed fish tested had concentrations of cancer-causing PCBs high enough to trigger health warnings from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. (EPA)
Farm Raised Fish: Seafood from a Cesspool Commercially-raised fish are produced in cramped and polluted living conditions, where chemicals and antibiotics are used to control the spread of disease. And unlike their wild counterparts, farm-raised fish consume a contaminant-rich fish meal – a processed mixture made from ground fish parts, corn, soy and other grains.
On average, it takes five pounds of fish meal to produce just one pound of farmed fish. This puts a heavy strain on wild fish populations. And it also makes farmed fish a highly concentrated source of cancer-causing chemicals called polychlorobiphenyls (PCBs).
PCBs are fat-soluble, which allows these chemicals to be absorbed into the fat and skin of farmed fish where they concentrate over time. Then we eat a dinner of farmed-raised fish and these toxins begin to “bio-accumulate” in us, becoming trapped in our fat cells.
And speaking of fat…
We have been told that the fat found in fish is heart-healthy. But that’s not the case with farmed fish. Because most farmed fish are raised on a diet of corn, soy and grain, they contain high levels of inflammation-promoting omega-6 fats and much lower levels of omega-3’s than their wild counterparts.
And it’s not just the PCBs and unhealthy fats we have to worry about when we eat farmed fish.
In commercial fish farms, tens of thousands of fish are packed into pens that are just 30 to 300 meters across. These cramped quarters become a breeding ground for disease. And that leaves the cesspool workers no choice but to administer antibiotics and harsh chemicals to the feed and water.
Here are the five main reasons why you should avoid farm raised fish:
#1: Polychlorylbiphenyls (PCB's) PCB's are powerful hormone-disrupting chemicals that have been linked to diabetes, obesity, cancer and reproductive problems. These chemicals can change the way your genes operate and directly suppress thyroid hormones (the epidemic of hypothyroidism now affects 59 million Americans).
If you’re eating farmed fish, you’re getting a big dose of these potent chemicals. And the problems they can cause are quite serious: • A study published in Diabetes Care found that people getting the most PCBs and other persistent organic pollutants were almost 3000% more likely to have diabetes • Infants and children with higher PCB exposures during development can experience neurological dysfunction, decreased IQ scores and impaired hearing. • Fish consumption data shows that 800,000 U.S. adults eat enough PCBs from farmed salmon to exceed the allowable lifetime cancer risk 100 times over!
And the situation is only getting worse with more and more fish farms cropping up across the globe – especially in China, which now produces nearly 80% of the world supply of farmed seafood.
And don’t expect the FDA to protect you. A report by Food & Water Watch, showed that the agency visually inspects less than 2% of the 860,000 imported seafood shipments annually. Less than 1% were actually tested for contaminants.
#2 Polluted Living Conditions “Our waters here are filthy,” said Ye Chao, a fish farmer who has 20 giant ponds in Fuqing in western China. “There are simply too many aquaculture farms in this area. They’re all discharging water here, fouling up other farms.”
So how do Chinese fish farmers cope with toxic waters? They mix a concoction of drugs, antibiotics and pesticides into the fish feed, packing even more poisons into these fish that end up on dinner tables across the world.
#3: Artificial Coloring: Dying for Fish? Some fish farmers actually add coloring agents to their fish feed. Consider salmon, for example. In the wild, salmon dine on krill. These tiny shrimp-like creatures are packed with astaxanthin (pronounced asta-Zan-thin) – one of the most powerful antioxidants known. (This is the nutrient responsible for the beautiful red-orange color of wild salmon.) But without the krill in their diet, farmed salmon are an unappetizing gray color. So, salmon farmers fix the problem by “color-finishing” their fish. They can even choose the shade they want, using a dye that is derived from petrochemicals, yeast and corn byproducts, or by utilizing E. coli.
And if you haven’t had a round of antibiotics lately…
#4: Antibiotics Lice and disease spread rapidly among farmed fish, so fish farmers are forced to add antibiotics and other chemicals. In fact, farmed salmon are administered more antibiotics by weight than any other form of livestock!
Consuming antibiotic-pumped animal foods increases the risk of antibiotic resistance, allergies, digestive problems and auto immune diseases. And unfortunately this fish tale isn’t quite over yet…
#5: Inflammatory Fats The primary reason cardiologists recommend we “eat more fish” is because of the heart-healthy omega-3 fats they provide.
However, a recent study found that farm-raised fish have very low levels of beneficial omega-3 fatty acids and worse, very high levels of inflammation-promoting omega-6 fatty acids.
Dr. Floyd Chilton, a Professor of Physiology and Pharmacology and the Director of the Wake Forest Center for Botanical Lipids said:
"Wild, sustainable, uncontaminated seafood is one of the healthiest things you can put on your plate. But unfortunately, most of us have been “baited and switched” with toxic farmed fish".
Bottom line: The next time you’re faced with a piece of farmed fish, remember what’s lurking beneath the surface: hormone-disrupting PCBs, drugs, antibiotics, pesticides, artificial coloring agents, and unhealthy fats.