Norwegian Farmed Salmon: the Source of the Salmonella Outbreak?

The mainstream media have shamefully missed two important questions in reporting on news on the smoked salmon salmonella outbreak:

1) Is the contaminated salmon farmed or wild?

2) Where was the contaminated salmon farmed (e.g. Norway or Scotland)?

At the least the photo (above) used by the New York Daily News (2 October) alerts readers to Norway. 

"The Dutch National Institute for Public Health and the Environment said the salmon has been traced to Dutch company Foppen, which sells fish to many major Dutch supermarkets and to stores around the world, including the U.S.," reported USA Today (2 October).  "Company spokesman Bart de Vries said in the U.S. the company sells only to wholesaler Costco and that Costco would deal with any U.S. recall."

Despite over 200 news articles in the international media, there is no mention as to the origins of the salmon.   However, the Norwegian trade publication Intrafish reported on Monday (1 October) that 90% of the salmon was farmed.

"Of the affected salmon, 90 percent was farmed," admitted a spokesperson for Foppen (the Dutch processor at the centre of the salmonella outbreak). 

According to the world's largest salmon farming company, Marine Harvest, Foppen is one of Europe's largest smoked salmon producers after salmon farming giants Morpol and Marine Harvest Norway:

A closer look at Foppen's web-site reveals that the company sources farmed salmon from both Norway and Scotland:

Foppen's Norwegian and Scottish farmed salmon comes stamped with the GlobalGap certification logo (see above in the left hand side). John Oosterhuis, a former quality assurance manager with Dutch retailer Albert Heijn (one of the supermarkets embroiled in the salmonella outreak), told Intrafish in 2007 that: "his company’s salmon suppliers – Marine Harvest-owned processor Pieters and Dutch smokehouse Foppen – are selling only GLOBALG.A.P.-certified salmon to the retailer."

Foppen's list of salmon products are dominated by Norwegian farmed salmon:

The Food Poison Journal reported (2 October):

"In the Netherlands “some 200 people have fallen ill through contaminated salmon” while in the US about 100 people were infected “by the same type of Salmonella”, said the National Institute for Public Health (RIVM) in the Netherlands.

“The real number of infected people is likely to be higher,” the RIVM added in a statement, saying smoked salmon made by Dutch fish producer Foppen has been taken off the shelves and removed from storage fridges. Foppen supplies smoked salmon to major supermarket chains including retail giant Albert Heijn, Dutch food and consumer watchdog NVWA said in a statement. It warned consumers not to eat any Foppen salmon already bought at supermarkets, which had been advised to take the product off their shelves.

“An international recall is being prepared,” the RIVM added, referring to salmon sold in the United States. The NVWA rang alarm bells Friday, issuing a recall and advising consumers not to eat smoked salmon produced by Foppen.

A partial list of recalled products can be found on the Foppen website."

One recall notice on Foppen's web-site states:

Another recall notice is only in Dutch and lists various smoked salmon products at various supermarkets - including:

"Until Foppen comes clean and reveals the source of the contaminated salmon, consumers should surely avoid farmed salmon like the plague," said Don Staniford of GAAIA.  "Norwegian farmed salmon leaves a nasty taste in the mouth and quite literally makes people sick.  Consumers around the world should follow Russia and China in boycotting farmed Norwegian salmon."

For more information on salmonella, listeria and other problems associated with salmon farming read the report "Fish Farmageddon: The Infectious Salmon Aquacalypse" (August 2011) online here

Even people in Norway are falling out of love with Norwegian farmed salmon - watch a video from the Green Warriors of Norway (online here)!

Read more about the health hazards of Norwegian farmed salmon and Norwegian salmon farming via a report from the Green Warriors of Norway - online here