Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Questions for the Authors of the Sustainable Sushi Guides

If you'd like to take a look at the sushi pocket guide published by the Environmental Defense Fund, click here. While you're reading it, keep the following questions in mind:
  • Why is nutritional guidance being given to the public without any peer review or even the availability of the underlying medical assertions?
  • Since the guides conflate “mercury and other contaminants” – even citing fish like salmon with scant trace amounts, how can consumers avoid confusion about the specific health threats being alleged?
  • If these guides actually dissuade some consumers from eating seafood altogether, as the federal government has warned can occur from alarmist nutritional information, wouldn’t that deny Americans proven and vital health benefits of eating fish?
  • Is it appropriate for environmental lobbying groups to be providing nutritional advice to the public in the first place?

NFI on the Sushi Pocket Guides

Another CounterPoint client, the National Fisheries Institute, just posted an item about the sushi pocket guides that were published today -- give it a read right now.

Welcome to Salmon Facts

Hi, I'm Eric McErlain of CounterPoint Strategies, and we're working with the trade group Salmon of the Americas to bring you Salmon Facts, a blog about salmon aquaculture.

The issue we're watching today concerns a trio of guides on "sustainable sushi" that are being published simultaneously by the Monterey Bay Aquarium, the Blue Ocean Institute and the Environmental Defense Fund. We've known for a few days that each of these guides were going to place farmed Atlantic Salmon on their red list for some time now, and we're watching the resulting media coverage very closely.

Needless to say, the folks at Salmon of the Americas in Chile and British Columbia don't agree with their findings. Here's a portion of a media advisory that the National Fisheries Institute and Salmon of the Americas issued jointly yesterday:
Reporters and editors are urged to question the overall viability of the guides while keeping in mind there is little if any independent oversight and or uniformity in production of these types of materials. By causing confusion in the marketplace, these guides might actually dissuade consumers from eating seafood, something that would deny them the proven health benefits of cause direct harm to public health.

What’s more, use of guides produced by environmental lobbying groups in order to obtain nutrition information is completely inappropriate.

You are urged to consult with members of the seafood community to provide a fuller picture of the issues involved.

The following spokespeople are available to provide input from the global fisheries industry regarding the guide's recommendations:

Gavin Gibbons
National Fisheries Institute

Mary Ellen Walling
Salmon of the Americas/BC Salmon Farmers
For more, on salmon sustainability questions, click here. Keep watching this space all day long.