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The Agency for US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) stopped imports of fresh and frozen salmon produced in Chile by the Norwegian multinational firm Marine Harvest.

The FDA took this action following the discovery, on 5 June, of traces of crystal violet, a chemical carcinogen compound in a batch of salmon from that company.

The crystal violet is an antifungal product that is prohibited in Chile and the US due to its carcinogenic effects.

The sales and marketing director for Marine Harvest, Gianfranco Nattero, reported that following the discovery of this substance, “all shipments of fresh and frozen salmon from this trans-national firm to the US have been seized,” according to what Ecocéanos News published.

“The ban does not extend to third-party products imported by Marine Harvest, or to smoked salmon,” stated the manager.

Nattero said US authorities that are responsible for the control of food and the Norwegian trans-national firm are investigating the potential sources of contamination with the prohibited antifungal substance.

“We’re checking everything: food, processing stage and packaging phase. All of it. We do not use crystal violet, and our own analysis, such as the official sampling programmes in Chile have not detected it,” he added.

Meanwhile, the company sent samples to independent laboratories, and expects to have the results of the analysis in the next 10 days.

The crystal violet is used for the removal of fungi in the tannery industry and in the farmed salmon sector. But its use is illegal, its presence in food in the European Union and the US is banned.

Several studies conducted on this chemical product have demonstrated it has carcinogenic effects in laboratory animals after exposure to it.

According to Juan Carlos Cardenas, a veterinarian doctor and director of the Ecocéanos Centre, “this situation repositions international attention on the salmon industry production malpractice as well as on the government’s health control system.”

“We hope that the traceability system allows consumers in the US, Japan, Brazil, the EU and other countries to have the right to know the conditions under which salmon is being produced in Chile,” pointed out the director of Ecocéanos.

“The companies that insist on using illegal chemical substances in Chile can not be held responsible and should be sanctioned under both national and international markets. This is a new sign that the so-called new 2.0 salmon is just part of advertising campaigns and public relationships,” he concluded.