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Fatty and flabby?

Looks delicious, but so does pizza. Which is healthier?
Looks delicious, but so does pizza. Which is healthier?

For many years I have disputed claims in my column made by fish farmers that eating their artificially reared salmon promotes health. Now, environmentalist extraordinaire Jon Ungood-Thomas, writing in the Sunday Times (14/9/04) reveals some unpleasant truths, truths that Scotland’s largely foreign-owned fish farmers would probably have preferred to remain uncovered.

Ungood-Thomas reports that, “Farmed salmon from Scotland, promoted as ‘lean’ and ‘healthy’, has a greater proportion of fat than a margherita pizza.” Commenting on Lapsang souchong tea smoked salmon (£4.99 for 100g) created for Waitrose by Heston Blumenthal uses farmed salmon, the fish being smoked over a blend of oak and tea. The packaging states, “Our premium salmon are reared in the fast-flowing, deep, tidal waters around Scotland where there are strong currents to help produce lean, healthy fish, ideal for smoking.”

However, the Waitrose Lapsang souchong salmon contains “10.5g of fat per 100g, including 3g of saturated fat. This compares with 6.4g of fat per 100g in a classic Pizza Express margherita pizza and 4.1g of fat per 100g in Yeo Valley peaches and cream yoghurt. Government guidance says that a low-fat food should contain less than 3g fat per 100g.” Waitrose also sell Wild Alaskan whisky oak smoked salmon (£5.49 for 100g) has far less fat at just 2.7g per 100g.

Other examples noted in the Ungood-Thomas report include: Sainsbury’s Scottish oak smoked salmon, 14g of fat per 100g and Sainbury’s Wild Alaskan smoked salmon, 3.2g of fat per 100g; Tesco’s farmed Scottish smoked salmon 9.9g fat, whereas Tesco’s Wild Alaskan smoked salmon has just 3.3g.

The report concludes noting, “Waitrose said it would change the use of the word ‘lean’ on the Lapsang souchong tea smoked salmon. A spokesman said ‘We are very sorry for this oversight, which we are correcting immediately.’ A Sainsbury’s spokesman said it clearly marked smoked salmon as wild or farmed and as they were different species of salmon ‘looking at the fat content between the two is not comparing like for like.’ Tesco said its farmed salmon was clearly labelled.

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