Daily News Archive
From June 7, 2005

Banned Fungicide Found in Farmed Salmon
(Beyond Pesticides, June 7, 2005)
A banned fungicide, malachite green, has been found in Canadian farmed Chinook Salmon from Stolt Sea Farm Inc. The contaminated salmon has reached the US, China, Japan, and other Asian nations, with half ending up in the United States reports The Oregonian.

Malachite green is used in some countries to control fungus on fish eggs. However, due to evidence suggesting the chemical causes cancer it has been banned for use since 1992 in Canada and since 1991 in the United States. Stolt Sea Farm Inc reported that the chemical was already on the eggs when they purchased them. The company and government are trying to trace the origin of the fungicide. The Canadian Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Fish discovered the contamination on March 3rd, and a recall was issued. However, no public notification was made at that time since the contamination was not considered a serious acute health risk. The contamination was at .31-1.3 parts per billion, which is below what is considered safe in other nations. Federal agencies report that 30 percent of the recalled salmon was returned and the rest was sold. The fate of the remaining salmon is still under debate. Stolt reported that they made the issue public to put people at ease about the health risks, and they hope to sell the fish to other nations that do not have bans on malachite green. Environmental groups want the fish destroyed and our outraged that the incident was not immediately reported.

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) was supposed to be testing for malachite green in imported salmon since 2003. However, Rae Jones of the FDA, reported to The Oregonian that as yet the agency has not tested for it.

This is not the first incident of toxic contaminants found in farmed salmon slipping through regulations. In 2004, Slice, a sea lice pesticide and known neurotoxin, was discovered in Canadian farmed salmon. Also, a new analysis of urban pesticide sales and stream contamination in the Northwest revealed a shocking increase in the toxic insecticide carbaryl in US salmon. These results are presented in a report, Toxic Tradeoff, recently released by the Clean Water for Salmon Campaign.

This incident highlights the continued need for stricter regulations and vigilance on the part of regulatory agencies. Don Staniford of the Friends of Clayoquot Sound was quoted by Alaska Highway News on Friday, "This blows out of the water claims that B.C. salmon farming has cleaned up its act." For more information regarding the history of damaging fish farming practices see Beyond Pesticide’s recent photo story.

Contact EPA administrator Stephen Johnson to urge for stricter standards that protect against salmon contaminated with malachite green. Voice your concerns about the inadequate protection from contaminated salmon to the FDA commissioner. Consumers seeking to purchase safe, unfarmed salmon should look for wild salmon from companies such as Chicken of the Sea and Wild Oats that do not rely on farmed salmon.