SOTA retorts column

Salmon of the Americas (SOTA) is firing back at columnist Barry Estabrook, who in a 30 July column warned readers to avoid eating Chilean farmed salmon due to antibiotic overuse.

“Fortunately, there is an easy way to avoid being exposed to this arsenal of medicines: Buy the wild Alaskan salmon currently in season. It’s sustainably fished and way better tasting than the farmed stuff,” wrote Estabrook in his column, “Politics of the Plate: Farmed Salmon on Drugs.”

Estabrook cited figures he obtained from the environmental NGO Oceana that claimed Chilean salmon farmers used more than 385,000 kilograms of antibiotics in 2007, nearly 600 times more antibiotics than Norway. The antibiotics included oxolinic acid, amoxicillin, erythromycin and flumequine.

“The author’s suggestion to avoid eating farmed salmon as a result of the use of approved medicinal treatments should be disregarded, as these treatments do not pose a human health risk,” said SOTA spokeswoman Laura McNaughton in a 1 August letter to

“Medicinal treatments for farmed salmon are only applied when absolutely necessary to treat the salmon for specific ailments and never as a preventative treatment,” she added. “All treatments (the medicine, dosage and duration) are prescribed, approved and administered to the salmon by and under the supervision of certified veterinarians. All treatments comply with and are controlled by the appropriate governmental organizations. A zero tolerance of antibiotic residue is mandatory in farmed salmon and extended periods of withdrawal are prescribed and monitored by the Chilean government fisheries department (Sernapesca) and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration prior to harvest and entry into the United States.

“The fact is that farmed salmon from Chile are a delicious, nutritious and safe food choice,” said McNaughton.

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