Marine conservation organization Oceana announced a ranking of the companies that used the most antibiotics per ton produced during 2012-2014 in Chilean salmon farming. The study was produced with information obtained by the NGO after years of litigation, during which salmon farms systematically refused to reveal the amount of antibiotics used in their production, arguing it was a “trade secret”. However, the Supreme Court finally ordered the industry to provide the data.
The list of the worst five, of a total of 27, is headed by Australis Mar and Trusal S.A., companies that used over 900 grams of annual antibiotics per ton produced; Salmones Aysén was ranked in third place, followed by Salmones Multiexport S.A. which only disclosed the total use of antibiotics for 2014; and last, Salmones Camanchaca, which used more than 600 grams per ton produced during 2012 and 2014 (see graph 1).
“The numbers we are announcing show the extensive use of antibiotics in the salmon farming industry; information that we requested for years through long legal procedures and that are finally being revealed today, for the first time”, said Liesbeth van der Meer, Executive Director of Oceana Chile. “In simple terms, the global average annual use of antimicrobials per ton produced in the cattle industry is 45 gm; meanwhile, there are salmon farms in Chile that have gone as far as using 950 gm per ton of salmon produced”, added van der Meer.
During the litigation years, Salmones Multiexport was the company that most refused to disclose the information requested by Oceana, by participating in all legal instances of the process, which involved the Appeals Court, the Supreme Court and the Constitutional Court. This secrecy stance currently continues and Multiexport still refuses to provide information on its production.
Other companies incurring in this same behavior are Aqua Chile, Australis Mar and Ventisqueros, none of which disclosed their production information for 2012 and 2013. However, with regards to the first two, the information was obtained from their sustainability reports.
“The fact that a few Chilean salmon producers still refuse disclosure is serious. The court was very clear that citizens have a right to know about the production of the species they purchase and consume”, stated van der Meer. “The information they continue to conceal seriously compromises public interest, which is why it’s urgent for the salmon farming industry as a whole to reveal its numbers”, finished.
Aqua Chile and Ventisqueros are among the eight companies that used the most antimicrobials between 2012 and 2014. In fact, Aqua Chile ranked first with over 150 tons, while Ventisquero came in seventh, with 60 tons.
In contrast to these results, the numbers revealed by Oceana also show the companies that used less antibiotics per ton produced during 2012 and 2014. Salmones Caleta Bay S.A. was the company that used the least, followed by Landes Fish Farming S.A., Marine Harvest S.A., Salmones Antártica S.A. and Mainstream S.A. (see graph 2).
It should be noted that the widespread use of antibiotics in the food industry is an international concern. The World Health Organization stated that the abuse of antimicrobials contributes to the propagation of bacterial resistance, which is currently one of the greatest public health issues. Resistance occurs when bacteria grow stronger and antibiotics designed to fight them aren’t able to eliminate them.