Restaurant says no to sick salmon
February 7, 2013 - 6:43pm By BRUCE ERSKINE Business Reporter
Ottawa OK with fish, but not Ryan Duffy’s
Diseased salmon have no place in his kitchen, says the executive chef at Ryan Duffy’s Steak & Seafood Restaurant in Halifax.
“I wouldn’t serve it,” Ron McMaster said in an interview Thursday.
“I only eat and serve the very best I can. That’s the way I roll.”
Cooke Aquaculture of New Brunswick is processing 240,000 fish infected with infectious salmon anemia from its Coffin Island farm near Liverpool under a Canadian Food Inspection Agency licence.
The federal agency says the diseased fish pose no human health threat and Cooke said it plans to market the fish the same as it markets non-diseased fish from its other aquaculture sites.
McMaster said he could see the infected fish being used in pet foods or in frozen, value-added products.
But he said he makes sure that the fish he serves in his restaurant, as with the fish he serves at home, are free of any contaminants.
“We won’t have it.”
The restaurant has reliable wholesalers who can source fish from companies other than Cooke to ensure that no diseased salmon wind up on his customers’ plates, McMaster said.
“They watch like a hawk.”
The restaurant takes similar precautions with other seafood, such as mussels and oysters, which can also be contaminated, he said.
“There’s always contamination.”
McMaster said he hasn’t heard any concerns about diseased salmon from the restaurant’s clientele.
“Our trust level is pretty good.”
He said he isn’t opposed to farmed salmon, which he called an excellent and tasty source of protein if raised properly.
“Farmed Atlantic salmon done right is beautiful.”
But McMaster said farming on the ocean is a threat to the farmed fish and to the marine environment.
“The answer is to stop putting pens in the ocean and put them on land.”
The Nova Scotia government, which has lent Cooke millions to expand its operations in the province, has said land-based aquaculture isn’t economically feasible.
But McMaster said he would be willing to pay a premium for salmon farmed on land.
“I’d gladly pay more to have it done properly.”
Sobeys says it won’t buy the diseased Coffin Island salmon or any other salmon with the virus.
“We’ll not accept salmon from sites that have tested positive for ISA,” company spokeswoman Cynthia Thompson said Thursday in an interview from Stellarton.
“We’ve been clear with Cooke and with other suppliers. We have their assurances.”
Julija Hunter, a spokeswoman for Loblaw Cos. Ltd., the owner of Atlantic Superstores, said Cooke is supplying it with fish that is free of infectious salmon anemia.
“All of the salmon that Loblaw offers is high quality, safe and CFIA approved,” Hunter said in an email Thursday.
Cooke spokesman Chuck Brown said the company values all it customers and adheres to their individual procurement policies.
“We assure each of them that we meet their specific needs,” Brown said in an email.
There are conflicting views on whether the diseased fish can be exported.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has said fish infected with the virus can’t be brought into that country.
But the Canadian Food Inspection Agency has said it has no indication from its United States counterpart that the fish can’t be exported south of the border, since there are no food-safety issues associated with it.