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Go (Organic) Fish

If you buy salmon with an organic label, do not assume it is truly organic.

The round, green "USDA Organic" seal is not allowed on seafood. At least not yet.

If the label says organic, the fish are not from the United States. Rather, they come from countries where chemicals and antibiotics might be used to keep fish healthy.

"You're paying more for something that is not any different and not any better for you, and certainly not better for the environment," says Andrea Kavanagh, who heads the Pure Salmon Campaign for the National Environmental Trust.

Those who sell organic fish say the fish have been raised as naturally as possible and certified in other countries that recognize the organic designation.

In the United States, an organic label has very specific meanings, depending on the product:

  • Food animals cannot be given antibiotics or growth hormones.
  • No pesticides, synthetic fertilizers or genetic engineering are
    allowed.
  • Farms must be certified by a government-approved agent.

    In other countries, the rules are not always so strict. For example, Europe allows antibiotics if an animal is sick. Also, organic salmon farmers can use a pesticide to control a vermin called sea lice.

    Seafood raised under these rules are sold in American supermarkets and restaurants, often with an organic label. The U.S. government says that is OK, even if chemicals or antibiotics are present.