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Organic Farmed Salmon Equally as Good as Farmed Salmon

28 September 2012
© Nofima (formerly Fiskeriforskning)

NORWAY - A small portion of farmed salmon comes from organic farms. Now new research from Nofima is showing that this fish has the same quality as conventional farmed salmon.

Of the 65 new production licenses which were awarded in 2009, five were earmarked for organic production. It is a political goal that 15 per cent of food production and consumption in 2020 will be organic.

Fish welfare is at the center of organic salmon farming and there are stringent requirements for density in the cages. Breeders of organic salmon should also, as far as possible, avoid medication and vaccination of salmon.

Since the scope of organic farming up to now has been so limited, there is little research on this. But now one of the first studies on organic salmon suggests that the quality of the fish is just as good in normal farmed salmon.

"We have measured the colour, fatty acid composition and texture, both with instruments and with a professional taste panel," says Magnus Åsli, Nofima.

"The results showed that the taste of organic and conventional salmon were approximately equal. The organic fish were generally slightly redder, and the texture was just as good as normal farmed salmon."

Organic salmon also had a slightly different fatty acid composition.

Other fatty acids

"The organic fish had more omega 3," says Mr Åsli.

"This fish gets more ingredients from marine sources, while the ordinary salmon get more food with higher levels of plant ingredients. This also means that the organic fish has a more pronounced fish flavour."

"But the long, unsaturated fatty acids are also more unstable and turn rancid more quickly, which can lead to organic fish having a shorter shelf life."

"This is something Mr Åsli and colleagues would like to look into in the future. They will also examine the quality of various products made from organic and conventional salmon."

"In this study we analysed fresh and vacuum packed fillets that were cooked in a water bath. But we would also like to examine the raw salmon and further processed products such as smoked or salted salmon," he says.

The research was funded by the Fisheries and Aquaculture Industry Research Fund (FHF).

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