Complaint: Norwegian salmon ad deceptive
A complaint filed with the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) in late January alleges a Norwegian Seafood Export Council (NSEC) ad infers its salmon is wild when the fish is actually farmed.
The letter of complaint is signed by Rick Moonen, chef at RM Seafood in Las Vegas; Marianne Cufone, Food & Water Watch fish program director; George Kimbrell, staff attorney for the International Center for Technology Assessment & The Center for Food Safety; Anne Mosness of the Go Wild Campaign; Bartlett Naylor of Capital Strategies; and Don Staniford, Pure Salmon Campaign global coordinator.
The complaint claims that the ad, which appeared in the October issue of Cooking Light, deliberately and systematically uses misleading language such as naturally, nature, pure and simple to convey the image of wild salmon.
"The use of the word 'fishing' and phrase 'we prefer fishing in fjord' clearly refers to wild caught fish," said the complaint. "The phrase 'years of swimming in cold, clear arctic waters' also adds to the misleading impression of a wild fish free to roam the open ocean rather than the reality of a factory farmed salmon kept in confined cages close to the coast or 18 months before slaughter. Nor are any Norwegian salmon farms (or Norway itself for that matter) located within the internationally defined boundaries of the Arctic Ocean."
The complaint goes on to list the differences between wild and farmed salmon and the environmental impacts of salmon farming.
The complaint also takes issue with the NSEC Web site, claiming that it misleads consumers to believe the salmon it's promoting is wild.
"The lack of transparency and lack of due diligence by the advertiser to disclose the true nature of farmed 'Norwegian salmon' is cause for concern to both those consumers who make purchasing decisions based upon health concerns and those who factor in environmental impacts," said the complaint. "We therefore ask that appropriate action is taken to ensure that 'Norwegian salmon' is not deceptively advertised in the U.S. marketplace and enforce truth-in-advertising laws. We urge you to ensure that consumers can make informed choices about the salmon that they buy, and that 'Norwegian salmon' is properly advertised by the Norwegian Seafood Export Council as farmed."