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Jeff Nickerson of Cooke Aquaculture checks a salmon for lice at the site of a salmon farm in the Bay of Fundy off Meteghan in July. (ADRIEN VECZAN/Staff)

From Chronicle Herald: Jeff Nickerson of Cooke Aquaculture checks a salmon for lice at the site of a salmon farm in the Bay of Fundy off Meteghan in July. (ADRIEN VECZAN/Staff)

Sobeys found sea lice on about a dozen whole Atlantic salmon removed from store shelves last week and is reviewing quality control with the supplier, a grocery chain spokeswoman said Monday.

Whole Atlantic salmon have not yet been returned to the shelves.

“We pulled whole Atlantic salmon from Maritime store shelves after having the issue brought to our attention through social media,” Cynthia Thompson, with Sobeys Inc. in Stellarton, said in an interview.

“This amounted to about 80 fish, and staff who conducted the inspections found sea lice in some of these fish.”

Thompson said she understood sea lice were found on fewer than a dozen of the fish removed from the shelves.

The fish were removed from stores and inspected after a consumer posted a photo on Facebook of some sea lice on a whole Atlantic salmon allegedly purchased in Truro.

“We’re currently reviewing all the related quality-control issues with the wholesaler and expect to have whole Atlantic salmon back on the shelves in the not-to-distant future,” said Thompson.

“We, of course, urge any consumer experiencing any sort of quality control issue with any product in any of our stores to contact us as soon as possible.”

Sobeys sells few whole Atlantic salmon and more of the regular retail cuts and fillets of salmon, which were were not affected by Thursday’s product removal.

Sea lice affects farmed and wild salmon and is typically removed before the fish find their way into the retail distribution system, said Nell Halse, spokeswoman with Cooke Aquaculture Inc. in Blacks Harbour, N.B.

Halse said the whole Atlantic salmon involved in the clearance of the product from Sobeys shelves last week did not come from a Cooke Aquaculture farm.

The fish were from a different supplier who was using a Cooke-owned distribution company, she said.

“We can track each of our fish from the egg to the plate,” Halse said of the company’s quality-control system.

The source of the fish has not been identified.

Different types of sea lice can affect various species and are not a human health hazard, said Pam Parker, with the Atlantic Canada Fish Farmers Association.

She said she understood the original Facebook posting indicated the sea lice was found in a fish gill. This may have occurred in the washing process, making the sea lice more difficult to detect.

Sea lice are more typically found on the dorsal fin and tended to before shipping.

Talk of sea lice should not turn people off of salmon, said Parker.

“The fact of the matter is salmon is one of the most nutritious foods a person can eat.”