Salmon: Correcting the Record

It wasn’t that long ago Dr. Sanjay Gupta told audiences that farmed salmon was “injected” with dye. He later devoted an extraordinary amount of time and research into an expose for 60 Minutes about farmed salmon where he explained that the dyed salmon narrative was simply a myth that needed rebutting:

  • Some people use that as a point to criticize farmed salmon that there are these artificial dyes—“It’s not accurate to call these artificial dyes. I think people conjure up this image of the farm salmon being injected with something that causes it to turn that pink color.  That’s not what’s happening here. It’s a much more natural occurring process where the farmed salmon eat a type of food that causes a reaction in the body, just like the wild salmon does, and that causes that more pinkish color.”

While we take our hats off to Dr. Gupta for correcting the record and doing it in a science-based manner, we also have to say good job to Cooks Illustrated. The venerable cooking magazine made the very same mistake Gupta once did but has done a service to its readers by also correcting the record:

  • In our March-April 2017 issue, we state that farmed salmon is “dyed pale pink by synthetic astaxanthin and carotenoid pigment in [the] feed.” To be clear, farmed salmon is not dyed. The pinkish color of the flesh is created by compounds in the feed. A similar process occurs in wild salmon, which get their pink color from eating shrimp and other sea creatures rich in carotenoids.

Getting accurate information out about the food we all eat is important. Misinformation, especially about healthy food like salmon, can actually hurt public health. Whether its chefs or doctors who are helping to set the record straight they should be applauded.