Associated Press April 24, 2003 Thursday
Lawsuits seek labeling of farmed salmon as artificially dyed
A law firm is suing the country's three largest grocery chains,
contending they should tell shoppers that the farm-raised salmon
they sell has been dyed pink. The three lawsuits, proposed as class
actions, were filed Wednesday against the Kroger Co., Safeway Inc.
and Albertsons Inc., said lawyer Paul Kampmeier of Smith & Lowney
of Seattle. "Pink sells salmon," he said. "To artificially color
salmon without giving that information to consumers, we believe
that's unfair and deceptive, and it's also against federal law."
The flesh of farmed salmon is naturally grayish.
Wild salmon's brightly colored flesh is the result of the fish
eating krill or other small crustaceans, says the British Columbia
Salmon Farmers Association, a trade group. Pigments added to farmed
fish food are synthetic versions of naturally occurring ones in
the diet of wild fish - "not unlike taking a vitamin C tablet instead
of eating an orange," the trade group said. Pigments are added at
levels that meet government standards, the association said.
Representatives of Cincinnati-based Kroger, Boise, Idaho-based
Albertsons and Pleasanton, Calif.-based Safeway said they had not
seen the lawsuits and could not comment on specifics, but added
that the salmon they sell are safe and comply with all federal rules.
"We want to assure our customers that we buy our salmon from well-regarded,
reputable suppliers who are known for their high quality standards
and who guarantee that they comply with all federal, state and local
laws," Safeway spokeswoman Cherie Myers said. The lawsuits, filed
in King County Superior Court in Seattle on behalf of supermarket
shoppers, seek unspecified damages and a court order requiring the
chains to inform shoppers that the salmon are artificially colored.
Salmon farms allow consumers to get the fish fresh year-round at
inexpensive prices, but they have come under attack in recent years
by some environmentalists, commercial fisherman and biologists.
The Coastal Alliance for Aquaculture Reform in British Columbia
last year organized a boycott of farmed salmon, arguing that the
fish-farming practices were environmentally unsound, that the farmed
Atlantic salmon compete unfairly with wild fish and that the end
product was neither as tasty nor as healthy as free-swimming salmon.
Salmon farmers say they work to minimize the environmental impact
of their industry and note that U.S. government data shows their
fish have higher levels of beneficial Omega-3 fatty acids than wild
Pacific salmon. On the Net: Smith & Lowney: www.smithandlowney.com/salmon/
Salmon Farmers Assn: www.salmonfarmers.org