It seems flesh-eaters have lost another round in the fight for survival. Usually, long after having given up the eating of animals which tread the same ground and breathe the same air as we do, many so-called “vegetarians” continue to nibble on those species of fish considered “safer” and “cleaner” than all the rest. Probably, none is more popular, nor considered safer, than the salmon.

It has always been a strong belief, spoken and unspoken, that the deeper the red color, the better the fish. As long as it has been, I remember that was the last flesh I tasted.

Imagine my chagrin upon learning, just today– June 15th, as this is being written– that the beautiful pink or red color which we all assumed indicated the richness of the fish we loved, was nothing more than food coloring, added to please such uninformed louts as I was.


Today’s CHICAGO TRIBUNE contained a story headed, “Salmon lovers see red over rosy farmed fish.” The writer, Jessica Kowal, was in Seattle, Washington, at “the busiest fish market in the Pacific Northwest.” The owner, she wrote, has bought and sold millions of pounds of salmon, without knowing, until recently, that “the bulk of fresh salmon consumed in the United States–that is, salmon raised on a fish farm–is not naturally pink.

Without two synthetic additives in their feed pellets, farm salmon would be dishwater gray.”

Having remained hidden for so long, the knowledge of the artificially colored salmon has “become front-page news in Seattle, where wild salmon are far more than a tasty choice for supper,” Ms. Kowal writes. “They are a quasi-religion, widely seen as healthy to eat and symbols of the quality of life and environmental well-being of the entire Northwest.”

She further points out that, “To defend the sanctity of salmon and to stop what lawyers describe as ‘negligent misrepresentation’ of farmed fish, four Seattle-area residents sued three national supermarket chains in April. They complained that the grocers had failed, despite requirements by the Food and Drug Administration, to label colorants on packages of farmed fish to sell more.”

Another of the lawsuit’s plaintiffs complained, “There’s no way I would have spent my money buying salmon that was colored with a chemical additive to give it the red or orange or pink color.”

The lawsuit alleges that fish farmers use a Salmo-Fan, an “artist’s color wheel” to select the preferred hue.

“The supermarkets named in the suit,” writes Ms. Kowal, “are Albertsons, which owns the Jewel-Osco chain in the Chicago area; Safeway, which owns the Dominick’s chain; and Kroger Co., which has Food 4 Less stores in the Chicago area.”

The writer states that “Some people object to artificially colored salmon on ethical grounds,” and points out Seattle journalist Joel Connelly, who states that he is offended when he sees brightly colored farmed salmon at grocery stores. “It simply strikes me as dishonest.”