Backlash after state media reveals ‘imported’ salmon in China is rainbow trout farmed in Qinghai

Angry consumers say they thought they were eating fish from Europe or North America, and some vow to stop buying it

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 27 May, 2018, 5:45pm
UPDATED : Monday, 28 May, 2018, 10:30am

A report by the state broadcaster last week revealing that one-third of the salmon sold in China is actually rainbow trout farmed on the Tibetan plateau has caused widespread outrage among consumers.

More Chinese have been eating the fish in recent years, particularly at Japanese restaurants or cooking it at home, believing it to be nutritious and imported.

But after CCTV revealed on Wednesday that many of them have been buying a different type of fish farmed in a reservoir in Qinghai province, it set off a firestorm of criticism online.

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On social media, angry consumers said they had been misled by fish sellers marketing their salmon as imported from northern Europe or North America, with some vowing to stop buying the fish altogether.

It has also tapped into widespread fears about food safety in China, with many online commenters saying they did not trust the Chinese farmed freshwater fish being sold as salmon, and worrying about parasites in the raw fish.

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That prompted the China Fisheries Association to put out a statement on Thursday in a bid to allay fears about the safety and authenticity of salmon on the market. It said several types of fish were considered to be salmon, including Atlantic salmon, Pacific salmon and also the rainbow trout being raised at fish farms in Qinghai province.

The association also said that parasites were not a product of seawater or freshwater, but were rather to do with the cleanliness of the water and what the fish ate.

It added that the authorities supported the farmed salmon industry in China.

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The Qinghai reservoir, covering an area of 383 sq km, is located at an altitude of 2,600m and is home to the biggest salmon farm operations in China.

One woman told the Yangtze Evening News on Saturday that all of the salmon she bought was labelled as imported from Norway, Denmark or Chile.

“It’s highly necessary that consumers can see clearly where the salmon comes from. The products need to be clearly labelled so that people can feel confident about what they’re buying,” she was quoted as saying.