Why do fishermen add artificial coloring to salmon?


SALMON is popular and is known to provide healthy diet due to its dense nutrient content. It is packed with antioxidants, proteins, vitamins, minerals, and the highly essential Omega-3 fatty acids. Salmon has that distinctive pinkish orange color that even American art-supplying company, Crayola, named one of their color hues after it. But do you know salmon is a white fish? – certainly applies to salmon when it comes to their flesh color. In the wild, salmon get their color from eating shrimp and krill, which are rich with astaxanthin – a reddish-orange carotenoid. It is the same pigment that turns flamingos pink and gives the red and orange color to tomatoes and carrots. This pigment is stored in the fatty tissues and since and salmon turns into the red hue we usually see.

However, farmed salmon does not have the same diet as a wild one. Without shrimp and krill in their diet, salmon flesh stays white in color. Consumers are long familiar with the distinctive pinkish salmon color, that a white salmon is just not as attractive as the wild one although they taste the same. Therefore, the farmer will add pigment into the food pellet to make their farmed salmon as pinkish as their wild counterpart. The added pigment is the same as the astaxanthin pigment found in wild salmon. Astaxanthin pigment is derived from naturally existing algae or synthesized chemically from petrochemicals. Today salmon fisherman have to inform their customers of the added coloring according to law.