The issue over artificially colored farmed salmon is being revived, as cautious consumers in California fight to enforce food labels. The case is regarding labels indicating that farmed salmon gets its pinkish-orange color via chemicals.
According to the San Francisco Chronicle, the state Supreme Court ruled that private citizens can sue to enforce California's food labeling laws. An attorney working with the plaintiffs said that the ruling "vindicates consumers' right to know what's in their food."
Consumers filed lawsuits in 2003 and 2004 arguing that supermarkets were misleading customers by not disclosing the fact that farmed salmon, which is naturally grayish, were fed chemicals to give them the color of wild salmon (the plaintiffs are not arguing that the chemicals harm the health of consumers). Lower courts dismissed the cases but higher courts disagreed and reinstated the claims.
Farmed salmon turn orange after consuming canthaxanthin and astaxanthin; similar substances are naturally part of the diet of wild salmon.
Farmed salmon made other headlines today due to their negative impact on wild stocks. The Globe and Mail reported that new research shows survival rates of wild salmon drop by more than 50 percent per generation in some cases, due to salmon farms.
The researchers, Jennifer Ford and the late Ransom Myers, both of Dalhousie University in Halifax, concluded that many salmon populations might not survive unless threats are reduced.
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