Grocery chains agree to label farm-raised salmon
By Candace Heckman
1st May 2003
SEATTLE POST-INTELLIGENCER REPORTER
Reacting quickly to a consumer complaint, grocery giants Albertsons, Kroger and Safeway have begun labelling farm-raised salmon in their stores across the country as artificially collared.
One week ago, several Seattle consumers filed lawsuits against the supermarket chains for not informing the public that farm-raised salmon are fed a colour additive to make the flesh pinkish-red.
If not given the additive, farm-raised salmon would be grayish, which consumers described last week as unappetizing. With the additive, wild and farm-raised salmon look alike and one might be easily mistaken for the other.
Paul Kampmeier, a Seattle lawyer whose firm filed the suits, praised the companies' decision to begin labelling, but said the move does not fully settle consumers' claims.
"There are still thousands of people out there who were harmed," Kampmeier said. "They were duped into buying a product they otherwise wouldn't have."
The lawsuits do not allege that physical harm was done to consumers for buying -- and eating -- artificially collared salmon, but the complaint outlines specific health and environmental risks associated with farm-raised salmon.
Those risks include eating flesh contaminated with antibiotics and pesticides, higher saturated fat, and danger to marine ecosystems and wild salmon from farm pollution.
The chemicals added to salmon feed -- canthaxanthin and astaxanthin -- are found in nature. Wild salmon get the chemicals, and their natural colour, by eating krill.
Representatives from Albertsons, Kroger and Safeway confirmed that artificial-colour labels will appear in stores immediately. They declined to comment on the lawsuit.
Kroger operates QFC and Fred Meyer stores locally.
P-I reporter Candace Heckman can be reached at 206-448-8348 or firstname.lastname@example.org