Research: FORAN and colleagues,

Listed in Issue 125


FORAN and colleagues, Midwest Center for Environmental Science and Public Policy, Milwaukee, WI, USA, have analyzed the benefits and risks of eating wild and farmed salmon.


Contaminants in farmed Atlantic and wild Pacific salmon raise important questions about the competing health benefits and risks of fish consumption. The aim of this study was to conduct a benefit-risk analysis in order to compare quantitatively risks of exposure to organic contaminants in salmon with the n-3 fatty acid-associated health benefits of salmon consumption.



Results and conclusions: Recommended levels of n-3 fatty acid intake, as eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), may be achieved by consuming farmed or wild salmon while maintaining an acceptable level of noncarcinogenic risk. However, the carcinogenic risk associated with these intakes of salmon is unacceptable. Although the benefit-risk ratio is significantly greater for wild Pacific salmon than for farmed Atlantic salmon as a group, the ratio for some subgroups of farmed salmon is on a par with the ratio for wild salmon. This analysis suggests that risk of exposure to contaminants in farmed and wild salmon is partially offset by the fatty acid-associated health benefits. However, young children, women of child-bearing age, pregnant women, and nursing mothers can minimize contaminant exposure by choosing the least contaminated Pacific wild salmon or by selecting other sources of n-3 fatty acids.



Foran JA, Good DH, Carpenter DO, Hamilton MC, Knuth BA, Schwager SJ. Quantitative analysis of the benefits and risks of consuming farmed and wild salmon. Journal of Nutrition 135 (11): 2639-2643, Nov 2005.


The media has done an excellent job in highlighting the contamination of many stocks of farmed salmon, which hopefully will lead to contaminant reduction and an increase in wild stocks.

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