Q: Are there any concerns about mercury in salmon?
A: There are no mercury concerns with farmed salmon from the east coast at all. At 0.018 parts per million (ppm, where one ppm is equivalent to 1 milligram of a substance per liter of water), Atlantic salmon is well under the limits set out by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which allows one-part-per-million. Our total of 0.018 is less than 1/50th of the allowed amount! In addition, Atlantic salmon is identified as one of several seafood species that has the lowest mercurylevels. Research has shown that the levels of mercury in True North salmon products are far below the levels that could impact health adversely.

Contaminates US Limits Canadian Limits True North atlantic salmon quantities
Mercury (ppm) 1.0 0.5 0.018

Q: Are PCBs a concern in farmed salmon?
A: Levels of PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls) in wild and farmed salmon are very low.

True North has a continuous testing program for PCBs, which are found throughout the environment. This testing shows that True North salmon has PCB values lower than 11 PPB, which is a tiny fraction of the 2000 ppb allowable limit set by the FDA. We have conducted our own tests, which put us well below industry average identified in the table below.

Contaminates US Limits Canadian Limits True North atlantic salmon quantities
Mercury (ppm) 2.0 2.0 0.014

Q: What do farmed salmon eat?
A: Farmed salmon eat nutrient-dense, dry pellets made from animal, plant and fish proteins and essential vitamins and minerals. The feed is made of natural products of the highest quality with no growth hormones added. All ingredients are approved for use by the FDA and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.

Q: Are antibiotics used when farming salmon?
A: Most True North farmed salmon will grow to maturity without the use of any antibiotics during their lives.

Still, sometimes, despite all of the preventative measures taken, some salmon may get sick. In these instances, veterinarians may prescribe an approved antibiotic. After treatment has ended, there is a strictly regulated withdrawal period and testing program to ensure the medication has cleared the salmon’s system before it can be harvested. Salmon farms have the longest regulated antibiotic withdrawal period of any agricultural sector in the world.

True North salmon are not fed antibiotics for growth enhancement, as is done with many other animal species.

Our plants are routinely inspected by the FDA and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency to ensure that our salmon meet their strict government standards for the absence of antibiotic residue.

Q: Are hormones fed to Atlantic salmon?
A: No. Hormones are not used in True North salmon production.

Q: Does salmon have more fat than other fish?
A: Yes, salmon is known as a fatty fish, but the type of fat in salmon — omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids — is known as a "good fat." Omega-3s are extremely important and beneficial to our health, and scientists, doctors and nutrition experts are recommending we eat more of them. Read about the health benefits of omega-3s here.

Q: Is farmed salmon as nutritious as wild salmon?
A: Absolutely. Both farmed and wild salmon are excellent sources of protein, essential vitamins and minerals. They are both also excellent sources of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids.

A recent study by the US Department of Agriculture revealed that farmed salmon typically has more omega-3 fatty acids than wild salmon, but it’s important to note that actual amounts can fluctuate as they are influenced by factors such as species of salmon, water temperature, type and availability of food, and stage of maturity.

One big difference is that farmers can create consistent levels of omega-3s in their salmon by controlling the amount and composition of the feed. At True North Salmon, we control the percentage of omega-3s, the total fat and nutritional content of our fish, and produce consistently nutritious salmon.

Read about the health benefits of Atlantic salmon here.

Q: What makes farmed salmon pink?
A: Both farmed salmon and wild salmon are pink because of the food they eat. The ingredients that turn them pink are called carotenoids, and they are the same natural ingredients found in lobster shells, carrots and egg yolks. Carotenoids are added to the salmon diet to provide them with both vitamin A and to give them their pink color. They are totally wholesome, completely safe, and approved by both the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency. They are also a powerful antioxidant and available for humans at most health food stores.

Q: Can farmed Atlantic salmon escape the nets?
A: We don’t want to lose our salmon, so every effort possible is made to minimize escapes. We monitor the nets with underwater cameras and divers are deployed to repair and check on them. We also deploy strong, thick plastic cages that further protect the salmon and nets from storms and predators.

We raise indigenous salmon species in their natural environment. Our salmon stock comes from the Saint John River in New Brunswick, and their natural habitat is the Atlantic Ocean. Since 1990, escapes have dramatically been reduced and are estimated at well below 1 percent since 1995. Regulation requires that all escapes be reported.

Q: When farming salmon, do the salmon eat more fish than the meat they produce?
A: At True North Salmon we do use some fish in our salmon’s diets, but we are still a net producer of fish.

The fact is, farmed salmon have a very efficient feed conversion ratio (FCR), and it is lower than most farmed livestock. The FCR measures the amount of feed consumed for every kilogram of body weight gained. For example, True North Atlantic salmon need to eat only 1.2 kilograms of feed to gain one kilogram of weight. A cow needs to eat eight kilograms of feed to put on one kilogram of weight, while a pig needs to eat three kilograms of feed to do the same. Wild salmon will eat 10 times their weight in smaller fish throughout their lives.

We are also constantly conducting research to better innovate our fish feed. Our feed company has been successful in reducing the percentage of forage fish in the meal, replacing it with protein and oils that come from vegetables. Over the last five years, the amount of wild fish used in feed has been reduced by 40 percent, and we continue to strive to make it better.

Click here to see how salmon stacks up against other popular foods when it comes to feed conversion.