The truth about su­per­mar­ket salmon: It’s come 22,000 miles ... and may be 18 months old!

Scottish Daily Mail - - News - By Sean Poul­ter Con­sumer Af­fairs Ed­i­tor

WHEN you tuck into your din­ner of Alaskan salmon, it’s fair to say you think it will have a trav­elled a fair dis­tance.

But few would imag­ine that the fish has ac­tu­ally ar­rived on their plate via Seat­tle, China, Hong Kong, the Suez Canal, the Mediter­ranean and the Nether­lands – a jour­ney of more than 22,000 miles.

And even af­ter their 13-week jour­ney is com­plete, the salmon fil­lets can be left on ice for up to 18 months be­fore reach­ing the su­per­mar­ket shelves.

It means that ev­ery year tons of salmon are be­ing shipped al­most the en­tire cir­cum­fer­ence of the world be­fore reach­ing the UK. This is de­spite the fact that Bri­tain, par­tic­u­larly Scot­land, has a thriv­ing salmon in­dus­try.

How­ever, be­cause much of the salmon is pro­cessed here and turned into ready meals or fish cakes, it means it can be la­belled as ‘Pro­duce of Bri­tain’.

Last night food cam­paign­ers said we should be buy­ing more lo­cally-sourced food to avoid eat­ing food that has been left in a

‘Shipped to China for cut­ting and pack­ing’

ware­house for over a year. The lengthy jour­ney taken by su­per­mar­ket salmon emerged af­ter a Tesco cus­tomer’s Face­book post to the su­per­mar­ket.

Blazia Thomas asked: ‘Why do my “Tesco Wild Alaskan Salmon Fil­lets” say “Pro­duce of China” on them?’

Tesco re­sponded: ‘The salmon is fished for in Alaskan wa­ters but is shipped to China for cut­ting and pack­ing. There­fore, we have to legally dis­play the ori­gin on pack where the last sig­nif­i­cant process took place.

‘The salmon is still Alaskan, this is just where it’s pro­cessed. I hope this clears things up.’ The Daily Mail has since es­tab­lished the likely route that salmon fil­lets fol­low be­fore end­ing up in our su­per­mar­kets.

Salmon is the na­tion’s favourite fish, but Bri­tain’s salmon in­dus­try is un­able to feed the de­mand, lead­ing su­per­mar­kets and food man­u­fac­tures to heav­ily rely on im­ports of much cheaper wild salmon caught off the coast of Alaska.

At one time, fac­to­ries in Alaska pro­cessed the fish to be frozen and ex­ported to around the world. How­ever, many of th­ese shut down af­ter the Chi­nese en­tered the pro­cess­ing mar­ket with an abun­dance of cheap labour. This meant it be­came eco­nomic to ship vast quan­ti­ties of pink or chum salmon across the Pa­cific to China for pro­cess­ing.

The best way to re­move the bones from salmon is by hand, which is some­thing Chi­nese com­pa­nies are able to do cheaply in plants around ports such as Dalian on the north east coast. In some cases, the salmon is doused in phos­phates which en­cour­age the flesh to take up wa­ter to en­sure they re­main moist and ap­pear fresh when they reach their fi­nal des­ti­na­tion.

Once frozen, the salmon is shipped via Hong Kong through the Gulf of Thai­land, Bay of Ben­gal, Ara­bian Sea, Suez Canal, Mediter­ranean, English Chan­nel and North Sea to the Nether­lands. The fi­nal leg of the jour­ney in­volves a trip to Felixs­towe, Im­ming­ham or Southamp­ton.

As well as Tesco, Young’s sells a pack of four Pa­cific Pink Salmon Fil­lets on which the coun­try of ori­gin is listed as China. Sains­bury’s sells 360g packs of frozen salmon fil­lets which are listed as ‘Pack­aged in the UK or China’.

Asda and Mor­risons sell frozen salmon fil­lets with­out of­fer­ing clear in­for­ma­tion on where they were pro­cessed. Ruth West­cott, of Sus­tain – a cam­paign group lob­by­ing for bet­ter food and farm­ing – said: ‘Com­mon sense says we should be buy­ing salmon lo­cally, it is a species that, a long time ago, was plen­ti­ful in the wa­ters and rivers around the UK.

‘With Brexit, we have an op­por­tu­nity to man­age our nat­u­ral re­sources bet­ter ... Con­sumers can avoid buy­ing salmon that has been shipped across the world sim­ply by choos­ing oily fish species caught closer to home.’ The Alaska Seafood Mar­ket­ing In­sti­tute said ship­ping salmon to the UK via China is good for con­sumers and the en­vi­ron­ment.

A spokesman said: ‘The car­bon foot­print is not as large as you may think. Th­ese fish could be fil­leted in Alaska, but it would add a lot of cost to the prod­uct to staff large fil­let lines for short pe­ri­ods.

‘Salmon ... are ex­ported to China be­cause it is the most ef­fi­cient means of pro­vid­ing a qual­ity prod­uct.’ They added that hand fil­let­ing pro­vides a bet­ter yield than ma­chine fil­let­ing, which ‘off­sets the CO2 foot­print and means more of the fish is con­sumed and utilised’.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.