Fishy goings on as salmon or trout debate flounders on

Open meeting to discuss classifying trout as salmon concludes without any consensus being reached

During an open discussion hosted by Shanghai Consumer Council yesterday, NPC deputies, lawyers and other interested parties demanded that the China Aquatic Products Processing and Marketing Alliance stop classifying rainbow trout as salmon.

The meeting followed a controversial decision by the alliance to allow the two fish to be sold under the same label.

"I do not agree with labeling rainbow trout as salmon because they are clearly different fish," said Chen Shunsheng of Shanghai Ocean University. "Living in different environments, the taste and production costs are completely different."

"Chinese consumers widely recognize the term ‘salmon’ as referring to the Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar), and there is no reason to expand the definition to include other fish," said Chen.

Jiang Xian, a lawyer, said rainbow trout was clearly not salmon.

"Consumers have the right to know and make informed choices. The redefinition will only mislead them," said Jiang.

The association said several kinds of fish, including rainbow trout and sockeye, have been sold as salmon in China for years, and the standard simply aims to regulate the market.

Chen Lichun, deputy secretary-general of the alliance, said there was no plan to adjust the standard nor delay its implementation.

The standard will make it difficult for consumers to accuse businesses of using inferior products, complained lawyer Jiang Hai.

There are also health concerns related to eating raw rainbow trout as sushi or sashimi, as the human digestive system is more easily infected by parasites from freshwater fish than from saltwater species.

"The standard has caused widespread concern and confusion since it was released two weeks ago. We have received a large number of inquiries from the public and hosted the meeting to try to clear up some of the issues," said Tao Ailian, secretary-general of the council.

"They are mostly concerned about safety and the right to know," she said. "We did not reach a consensus today, but we want both businesses and the alliance to ensure consumer rights."

Special Reports