Norway was the first, and remains the largest Atlantic salmon farming nation, producing more than half of the world’s farmed salmon under strict guidelines, close monitoring and sustained commitment to development, which has enabled the country to become a world leader in aquaculture.

Every day, 14 million meals with Norwegian salmon are served worldwide. Just a few hours after the Norwegian salmon are harvested, they are ready for export to over 100 markets.

How much do you really know about Norwegian salmon? We’ve prepared 10 must-know facts for you to get a clear and rounded view about our Norwegian salmon and the industry.

1. Can we be sure that Norwegian salmon sold to us are safe and healthy?

Yes. Norwegian salmon are looked after by vets and the salmon farms are strictly regulated.

Norway’s food safety monitoring programs follow EU regulation. The Norwegian food safety programs monitor the fish, as well as the feed the fish eats. The monitoring programs and results are fully open to the public.  Norway is one of few fish farming nations with a dedicated aquaculture act.

Each year, around 14,000 export-ready Norwegian salmon are inspected by the independent National Institute for Nutrition and Seafood (NIFES). None of these inspections have ever found any residues of prohibited medication or illegal foreign substances.

2. Can we buy and eat Norwegian salmon as usual during the COVID-19 outbreak?

The WHO have made it clear that droplet transmission via the respiratory tract and direct contact are the major modes of transmission of virus causing COVID-19. Both Chinese and Norwegian food safety authorities have confirmed that there are no known cases of infection of COVID-19 via food. It has been acknowledged at the press conference of epidemic prevention in Beijing that seafood can be bought and consumed as usual when following food safety principles.

The WHO have made it clear that droplet transmission via the respiratory tract and direct contact are the major modes of transmission of virus causing COVID-19. Both Chinese and Norwegian food safety authorities have confirmed that there are no known cases of infection of COVID-19 via food. 

3. What precautions has Norwegian salmon industry taken to guarantee food safety against COVID-19 virus?

Norwegian salmon industry is continuously sustaining the production under very strict hygiene and contamination measures as always. It is a basic requirement in the Norwegian regulation that people handling food including seafood, must be healthy. During the Covid-19 outbreak, Norway has implemented strict hygiene regulations regarding social distance, quarantine, and isolation. The producers in Norway have followed all these requirements and recommendations in their facilities.

4. There used to be talk of antibiotics in salmon. Are there any traces in Norwegian salmon today?

Since the late 80s, the use of antibiotics has dropped 99% in Norwegian aquaculture. Effective vaccines against the most common salmon diseases, as well as strict hygiene regulations has allowed for this reduction. The measures have been acknowledged by The WHO. Antibiotics is no longer an issue for the Norwegian aquaculture as less than 1% of all Norwegian salmon are treated. In the last 20 years, national and international food authorities have not been able to find traces of antibiotics in Norwegian salmon.

During the Covid-19 outbreak, Norway has implemented strict hygiene regulations regarding social distance, quarantine, and isolation. The producers in Norway have followed all these requirements and recommendations in their facilities.

5. How much omega-3 fatty acid does Norwegian salmon contain?

One normal meal of salmon (150 g fillet) contains about 1.8 g EPA and DHA. This makes Norwegian salmon one of the richest food sources of omega-3. The levels of omega-3 in farmed Norwegian salmon, are around the same level as wild salmon. A normal meal of Norwegian salmon covers a person’s weekly needs of omega-3 fatty acids, following The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) recommendations.

6. A great deal of salmon is farmed in Norway. How is the Norwegian salmon cared for?

Norway has strict criteria that salmon farms must meet in order to obtain a license to operate. The farms must be located in the open sea, in the cold and clear waters of our fjords, far enough away from maritime traffic areas. Regulations require that the Norwegian salmon only need 2.5% of the total fish pen. Water constitutes the remaining 97.5%, allowing ample room for Norwegian salmon to swim. The net pens in which the Norwegian salmon grow have a circumference of up to 200 meters and a depth of up to 50 meters. All of our Norwegian salmon are treated with the utmost care – not only is it the right thing to do, stress actually affects the taste of the fish. Read more here.

Regulations require that the Norwegian salmon only need 2.5% of the total fish pen. Water constitutes the remaining 97.5%, allowing ample room for Norwegian salmon to swim.

7. What kind of feed is fed to Norwegian salmon?

Norwegian salmon feed consists of a combination of ingredients. Today, marine resources accounts for 20–30% of the Norwegian salmon feed, which includes fish oil and fish meal. Vegetable oil, vegetable proteins and carbohydrates constitute around 70% of the salmon feed. The fish oil and fish meal are made from fish offal and wild fish that are not fit for human consumption. The mix of marine and vegetable ingredients is beneficial to both the salmon and the environment. Read more here.

8. How does Norway set the standard for high-quality, safe and sustainably farmed salmon?

Norwegian aquaculture methods have developed rapidly in the 50 years since our first Norwegian salmon farms. Norway has relied on its strict guidelines, close monitoring, and sustained commitment to development. This includes a 130 million RMB investment from the fish farmers each year (in addition to state investments) to fund research and development.

Norway was one of the first countries to introduce a traceability system that tracks details about the health and harvesting of Norwegian salmon to ensure reliable food safety tracking. Sustainability is at the heart of everything we do. It is fundamental to the existence and profitability of aquaculture and requires the collaboration of the authorities, research sector, fishermen and processors. Read more here.

Vegetable oil, vegetable proteins and carbohydrates constitute around 70% of the salmon feed.

9. Has any undesirable substance been found in Norwegian salmon?

For more than 25 years, the Norwegian authorities have been closely monitoring Norwegian salmon for the presence of any undesirable substances, such as PCBs, dioxins and heavy metals. We can confidently say that the levels of pollutants are far below the limits set by the Norwegian authorities and the European Union. Norwegian salmon is perfectly safe and healthy for human consumption.

10. How does Norway keep salmon farming in balance with the protection of the ecosystem?

Northern Europe, where Norway’s aquaculture industry operates, hosts some of the most viable wild salmon stocks in the world.

This despite Norway being the largest Atlantic salmon farming nation in the world. Our Norwegian salmon farms must be located in an area that protects the environment and native stocks. We restrict the number of farms to fewer than 750 per 28,953 km of coastline and licenses are allocated sparingly to avoid excessive development. Between each farming cycle, farms are left to rest in order to preserve the natural environment. During this period, the seabed is closely monitored.

Norwegian aquaculture companies hold 4 out of the top 10 spots in the 2019 Coller FAIRR Protein Index, demonstrating that Norwegian aquaculture is among the most sustainable food production there is and that Norwegian salmon companies are leading the way in sustainable protein production.