The major multiples this week brushed aside the media storm about farmed salmon that started in the national papers and was picked up by TV’s Tonight with Trevor McDonald.
Numerous newspaper and internet articles reported a US
study that damned contaminant levels. The study was funded by Pew Charitable Trusts which has marine conservation issues high on its agenda.
Sensationalist coverage formed Scottish Quality Salmon’s worst PR nightmare yet. Reporters were eager to take the doomsday tone of Salmon Farm Protest Group lobbyist Don Staniford.
Yet Food Standards Agency chairman Sir John Krebs said the levels of dioxins and PCBs found in the study were in line with those found by the FSA, and within up to date safety levels set by the WHO and the European Commission.
The study did not raise any new food safety concerns, it said, sticking with its advice that consumers should eat two portions of fish per week, one of them oily.
The major multiples all backed the FSA’s advice, and each said they had only had a few queries from shoppers. Fresh salmon sales last week were strong.
Stuart Mitchell, MD of Sainsbury’s Supermarkets, told the City Food Lecture: “We should remind ourselves that we have the FSA and that was set up to give consumers independent advice. Sir John Krebs says eating two portions of fish a week is healthy and we should follow that advice.”
Morrisons said it was encouraging shoppers to “enjoy salmon”, while Asda said: “Read the papers and you would think there are shelves of salmon going to waste. This could not be further from the truth.”
Tesco said: “The FSA, the British Retail Consortium and the industry are doing a good job to put this into perspective. Consumers understand that these criticisms are the views of one or two people.”
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