The co-owner and chef of a Michelin-starred Norwegian restaurant has slammed farmed salmon and said his restaurant will never buy it.
“For us it’s simply completely out of the question that we should ever take in Norwegian farmed fish,” Esben Holmboe Bang said in an interview with the Norwegian daily Dagbladet.
Esben Holmboe Bang is co-owner of Maaemo — an award-winning restaurant and the only one in the Nordics to have two Michelin stars.
The chef criticized aquaculture salmon for being farmed in cages, “an unnatural habitat”, and fed with “things it shouldn’t eat, such as soya, corn and medications”.
“Norwegians travel around the world as if we are in a new Viking age, and fish other countries’ small fish to feed huge quantities of farmed fish,” he told the newspaper.
“It harms the nature, it creates a bad environment, the fish suffers and producers are being scammed.”
The industry meanwhile, “is steeply uncultured”, Bang said. “It’s hard to argue against them, because they are so indoctrinated in what they say, and the consumers swallow it.”
Bang singled out the branded Salma salmon by Salmon Brands (pictured) in his criticism.
Salma salmon is “standard, horrible farmed salmon”, he told Dagbladet. “There is no difference, except for the fact that it’s square, ‘nicely’ packaged and priced higher. People think it’s a luxury product, but it’s pure bluff.”
In response, Salmon Brands’ Trym Eidem Gundersen and the Norwegian Seafood Council’s Christian Chramer defended farmed salmon and the way it is fed.
Salmon feed contains a range of products such as canola oil, corn, fish oil, wheat and off-cuts from the fish industry, they said. The feed is constructed to give the fish optimum health and to be sustainable.
Salma salmon has gone through a long innovation process, with a guarantee that it is vacuum packed within four hours of being harvested, said Gundersen. Every single loin is hand cut, and the production method gives it a particularly good quality with a unique texture, color and taste, he said.
Chramer said Bang’s comments appeared emotional and based on few facts and pointed out that while “Maaemo offers expensive products that are limited for most people”, Norwegian farmed salmon is one of Norway’s strongest branded products” and people have never eaten as much salmon as now.
Farmed salmon, he added, is the domesticated animal that is fed the least amount of medication, while a cage must consist of 97.5% water and 2.5% fish.