According to the FDA in a statement a few days ago, a salmon genetically engineered to grow very quickly was deemed safe to eat by the agency. With the addition of some genes from a different fish, the salmon takes half the time to grow to market size, which leads to a less expensive product, though not necessarily a better one.
Putting aside the incendiary fears of “frankenfood” the inclusion of this fish, unlabeled, in the food supply does raise some new questions about safety. I have written about farmed fish, and the higher incidence of pollutants and antibiotics found in them, which my still be an issue as these fish are farmed, but in addition there is the potential for allergic reactions in some people who may not know that they are consuming a fish with substances not normally present in a salmon. While this is not likely to be a common problem, it would be unfortunate if you were the person it happened to. The presence of more growth hormone than would normally be found in the fish may also concern some sushi diners, as some studies have suggested that higher levels of these compounds, when eaten, may lead to an increased risk of some cancers. I am not trying to incite people to run around with torches and pitchforks, but I did want to point out that most likely this fish will be on your sushi or sashimi platter and you won’t be told. I am not promoting a backlash, but transparency. I would like to be told what I am eating, particularly if it is not what I am expecting.
While it will likely take two to three years for the salmon to reach consumers, I still lump this salmon in with farmed salmon. My preference is to eat wild salmon as it has less contaminants, and is likely better for you as the wild fish eat other fish in the wild instead of food from a bag, and may have more heart friendly omega 3 fatty acids. I always ask if the salmon is farm raised or wild, and order based on the answer. I encourage consumers to educate themselves and don’t feel intimidated to ask the same question if it is an issue important to them.
I have always been fascinated by the creation and culture of different foods, particularly sushi and sashimi in the modern era of Japanese cuisine. I am a classically trained chef and sushi connoisseur, also having operated a food service company and enjoy investigating and experimenting with food around the world.