An interview by Norwegian publication, VG, with a so called expert and a doctor who claim Norwegian farmed salmon contains dangerously high levels of toxins, has sparked a debate on its safety, particularly for pregnant women, children and adolescents and prompted questions for the government.
Svein Flåtten, Conservative party economic policy spokesman asked fisheries minister to assure Parliament and the Norwegian people that Norwegian farmed salmon is a healthy and clean product.
The Norwegian Food Safety Authority said the views exxpressed in the article are groundless, basing its opinion on the evaluation over many years of the Scientific Committee for Food Safety and the National Institute of Nutrition and Seafood Research (NIFES).
The agency said there is no new research behind the claims. The journalist and sources used existing research to pull completely different conclusions from the Norwegian authorities in both health and food safety.
"This case and these researchers represent a view that differs substantially from the competent food authorities in Norway, such as the Food Safety Authority, Scientific Committee for Food Safety and NIFES. There is full disclosure of these results, including through NIFES' website", said Communications Director of FHL, Are Kviststad.
"The case is also not new. The content of POPs and other undesirable substances in Norwegian salmon is monitored, evaluated and found far below international limits. Research gives us the conclusion that the good health benefits of eating salmon and other seafood far exceeds the possible negative".
Aquafeed maker, Skretting, has be quick to post information to its website assuring the safety of Norwegian salmon. "The levels of contaminants in farmed salmon is strictly controlled and documented far below international limits", it says. "The government sets limits for contaminants in all foods including salmon controlled through both raw materials and feed as well as analyzing of fish". Skretting has in addition a Food Safety & Quality system, NuTrace, tracking and monitoring of raw material for fish.
The story was however swiftly followed by a report in Aftenposten that Norway has for years tried to get the EU to permit a ten-fold increase in Endosulfan, a substance recognized as toxic, in salmon than previously allowed. Now, Norway has received approval from the EU, it says. The story goes on to claim that a consultation document from the FSA shows that there are economic reasons why Norway is eager to raise the limit.
The report says Endosulfan was previously forbidden to use in feed for all salmonids, but research has shown that fish can withstand poison better through feed than by being exposed to it in the water.
It is feared that the debate about potential hazards of eating farmed salmon could have negative consequences for Norwegian salmon exports.