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Something Fishy Going On

Keep an eye on the salmon and eggs you buy. They may pose dangers to your eyesight. But only the farmbred kind.

Farmed salmon, as anyone with a single taste bud knows, do not taste quite the same as the wild salmon. And they lack the natural pinkish colour of the wild salmon which eat a steady diet of shrimp.

To make the farmed salmon look pink, European breeders feed their fish with a colouring agent in their food. Cosmetically this turns their gray flesh pinkish, more pleasing to the eye, more tempting to buyers, but also dangerous to the eyesight of an unwary public.

The colouring agent is called Canthraxanthin, consumption of which over time can affect human eyesight.

The European Commission first established in 1997 that Canthraxanthin in artificially fed salmon was linked to eyesight problems. Now it is moving to cut the amount of the colouring agent in fish feed by two-thirds. Its edict will not come into effect until December of this year, 2003, allowing presently held stocks of the feed to be used up.

Canthraxanthin is also mixed in with chicken feed to produce yellower egg yolks.

Consumers have a choice: good eyesight, or artificially coloured food.


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