Lower levels of Persistent Organic Pollutants, metals and the marine omega 3-fatty acid DHA in farmed compared to wild Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar)

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Contaminants and fatty acid levels in farmed- versus wild Atlantic salmon have been a hot topic of debate in terms of food safety. The present study determined dioxins (polychlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxin and dibenzofuran), polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs), organochlorine pesticides (OCPs), metals and fatty acids in wild and farmed Atlantic salmon. Contaminant levels of dioxins, PCBs, OCPs (DDT, dieldrin, lindane, chlordane, Mirex, and toxaphene), and mercury were higher in wild salmon than in farmed salmon, as were the concentrations of the essential elements selenium, copper, zinc and iron, and the marine omega-3 fatty acid docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). PBDE, endosulfan, pentachlorobenzene, hexachlorobenzene, cadmium and lead levels were low and comparable in both wild and farmed fish, and there was no significant difference in the marine omega-3 fatty acid eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) concentration. The total fat content was significantly higher in farmed than wild salmon due to a higher content of both saturated and monounsaturated fatty acids, as well as a higher content of omega-6 fatty acids. The omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acid ratio was considerably lower in farmed than wild salmon due to the high level of omega-6 fatty acids. Contaminant concentrations in Atlantic salmon were well below maximum levels applicable in the European Union. Atlantic salmon, both farmed and wild, is a good source of EPA and DHA with a 200 g portion per week contributing 3.2 g or 2.8 g respectively, being almost twice the intake considered adequate for adults by the European Food Safety Authority (i.e. 250 mg/day or 1.75 g/week).

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