Call for labelling to identify salmon diseases

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The Norwegian Consumer Council says customers should be told when salmon sold in shops have a history of illness.

But the industry has come out strongly against the idea, arguing that fish diseases do not affect humans.

Norway’s salmon farmers have been particularly badly affected by various biological diseases such as infectious salmon anaemia (ISA) and gill disorders this year.

The Consumer Council is arguing that the Norwegian public would generally welcome such a move. Its director, Lise Blyverket, told the broadcaster NRK, that salmon farmers had to accept consumers wanted to know more about production conditions at fish farms. NRK has uncovered a number of fish welfare issues along the coast this year.

She said people who bought a product labelled as a premium product on the packaging were unaware that it may have been dying from a sickness before it was slaughtered.

NRK reported recently that in one case the Norwegian Food Safety Authority was said to have uncovered what they believe was an attempt to allow salmon that had been taken sick in the cages to become food for humans.

It is also revealing that fish with gill disorders, parasites and heart diseases are slaughtered and sold to consumers.

The Norwegian Seafood Council’s Director of Aquaculture Arne Grøttum said he could not see what purpose such a move would make.

He told NRK: “Firstly, this is not about food safety. Secondly, it is very difficult to implement. And thirdly, it is a bit strange that this type of labelling scheme should be introduced for salmon and not for other animal meat production.”

He added that the aquaculture sector was already subject to strict rules on health and safety.

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