SOTA Responds to New York Times Article


SeafoodSource staff

Published on
March 28, 2008

Salmon of the Americas yesterday charged the New York Times of publishing an erroneous report on hormone and antibiotic use by Chilean salmon-farming companies.

The March 27 article, "Salmon Virus Indicts Chile's Fishing Methods," mentioned several environmental impacts of the aquaculture industry in Chile, and detailed how infectious salmon anemia (ISA) has ravaged the country's salmon farms, killing millions of salmon destined for export to Japan, Europe and the United States.

Dr. Felipe C. Cabello, a professor in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at New York Medical College in Valhalla, N.Y., told the Times, "All these problems are related to an underlying lack of sanitary controls. Parasitic infections, viral infections, fungal infections are all disseminated when the fish are stressed and the centers are too close together."

Industry executives interviewed by the Times admitted some problems, but denied that consumers' health is at risk.

"The article lacks merit by referencing the use of hormones to make the fish grow faster. Hormones have never been used in the history of salmon farming in Chile," responded SOTA, an association of U.S., Canadian and Chilean salmon-farming companies, in a press release.

"This malicious statement that hormones are used is false and serves to dissuade consumers from eating farmed salmon, the safest of all fish, according to a study requested by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and published by the Institute of Medicine."

SOTA also contends that any administration of antibiotics is done under supervision of certified veterinarians and complies with governmental regulations, a process similar to what the cattle, pork and the poultry industries employ.

"A zero-tolerance [policy] of antibiotics residue is mandatory in farmed salmon and all production is controlled before harvesting is permitted by the Chilean government as well as the [U.S.] Food and Drug Administration," said SOTA. "It is patently false to state that consumers will be purchasing farmed salmon with any type of medicinal residue."

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