Things to look out for when buying smoked salmon

How to choose the best smoked salmon

Image showing smoked salmon. Credit: Ruth Hartnup from Vancouver, Canada/Creative Commons Attribution 2.0

Eating healthily is something everyone tries to do, and being aware of what to look for can further improve our choices. 

Recent guidelines from the Organization of Consumers and Users (OCU) in Spain have highlighted the importance of proper storage and handling of smoked salmon.

Recently, the OCU issued a warning about the health risks associated with the prolonged storage of smoked salmon. The advisory calls for Spanish representatives in the European Parliament to support an amendment to Regulation 853/2024.

This change aims to set strict food hygiene standards for products of animal origin, specifically limiting the refrigeration period of smoked salmon to no more than four days.

Understanding the smoking process

The term ‘stiffening’ refers to the period between the smoking of the salmon and its subsequent slicing. During this time, the fish is kept at a temperature of -11 degrees Celsius.

According to the Food Codex standards, this phase should last only a few days to ensure the quality and safety of the salmon, although some producers extend this period significantly.

Selecting the best quality smoked salmon

When choosing the finest smoked salmon, consider several key factors.

  • Look beyond the colour displayed on the packaging, as it often includes natural colourants and does not necessarily reflect the quality of the fish
  • It’s essential to consider the fat content in foods, which in some fish, like salmon, is visibly oily. This type of fat is beneficial for heart health.
  • Salmon is highly nutritious, providing a substantial amount of protein—about one third of its composition—along with significant levels of B vitamins and vitamin D.
  • It is important to be cautious of the salt content, which can constitute 30 per cent of the recommended daily intake per 50 grams.

Health considerations and regulations

The upcoming European regulation will mandate that the stiffening period should not exceed four days, after which the product must be frozen at -18 degrees Celsius if not consumed. This is a critical measure to maintain the food’s safety and quality over time.

By understanding these guidelines and considering the fat content and nutritional information, consumers can make informed decisions when purchasing smoked salmon, ensuring they choose a product that is not only delicious but also safe and healthy.

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Written by

John Ensor

Originally from Doncaster, Yorkshire, John now lives in Galicia, Northern Spain with his wife Nina. He is passionate about news, music, cycling and animals.