New Farmed Salmon Standards Adopted by Wegmans and Bon Appétit
U.S. food retailer, Wegmans Food Markets and Bon Appétit Management Company, a leading food service company, announced today at the Boston Seafood Show that they have adopted new purchasing policies to provide their customers with farmed king salmon that meets strong health and environmental criteria.
In recent years, the salmon farming industry has been surrounded by controversy as researchers reported that some farmed salmon contain relatively high levels of PCBs and other contaminants compared with wild salmon. Conservation organizations have also raised concerns about the industry’s impact on wild salmon populations, use of drugs and other chemicals in raising salmon and the release of untreated wastes from salmon farms into coastal waters. This collaborative project tackled all these issues, set aggressive performance targets for suppliers and requires regular reporting and third party verification of progress toward meeting these goals.
The policies, developed in consultation with Environmental Defense, an environmental advocacy organization, include new production standards that are the first to publicly and cooperatively address the most pressing health and environmental concerns surrounding salmon farming. Among other changes, the purchasing standards set stringent criteria for levels of PCBs and other contaminants, require salmon producers to take unprecedented steps to reduce potential impacts on wild salmon populations and the marine environment, and reduce the dependence on wild-caught fish for use in salmon feed.
Under the standards, suppliers will research and implement innovative technologies and management strategies, such as integrating the farming of salmon and mollusks to recycle fish wastes and cut water pollution. The policies require suppliers to meet at least five of the eight purchasing standards immediately, including the health criteria, and establish a timeline with strict deadlines for suppliers to comply with all of the standards. The policies also provide incentives for developing new technologies and strategies that further reduce, and may eventually eliminate, the concerns over negative environmental impacts from salmon farming.
"Environmental Defense applauds Wegmans and Bon Appétit for adopting these new standards and for challenging their suppliers to improve farming operations,” said Environmental Defense Director of Corporate Partnerships Gwen Ruta. “Working together, we are providing consumers healthy and affordable salmon now, while promoting further innovation in farming practices. We urge other purchasers to build on this progress by adopting similar purchasing policies.”
King salmon complying with the purchasing policies are now arriving in Wegmans stores, and the retailer will work with its other farm-raised fish suppliers toward meeting similar standards. Bon Appétit will continue to preferentially purchase wild salmon but, pending product testing, will over the next year give its chefs the option of purchasing farmed king salmon that meet the new standards.
“Wegmans is starting with king salmon, not usually available at all to our customers except during the wild salmon run,” said Wegmans Vice President of Seafood Carl Salamone. “We will eventually expand these standards to all our farmed seafood. We want to offer our customers seafood that meets the strongest health and environmental standards of any U.S. retailer at an affordable everyday price.”
“Bon Appétit Management Company is committed to serving our guests healthful and sustainably sourced food,” said Bon Appétit Management Company Chief Executive Officer Fedele Bauccio. “While our first preference will always be for wild fish, we are proud of our participation in the development of farmed salmon standards that will drive environmental progress in the aquaculture industry.”
These purchasing policies are also supported by the Monterey Bay Aquarium and its Seafood Watch program - a leader in providing guidance to consumers, retailers and restaurateurs on environmentally sound seafood.
"These standards represent a major improvement in the methods by which salmon can be farmed and brought to market," said Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch Program Manager Jennifer Dianto. “We've long encouraged the industry to embrace such standards. Now we have something that can be a model for producers to follow.”