Buyer Beware: Trout Can Now Be Sold as Salmon in China

By Matthew Bossons, August 13, 2018

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In response to claims that China-raised rainbow trout are being labeled and sold domestically as salmon, the China Aquatic Products Processing and Marketing Alliance (CAPPMA) and 13 Chinese fishery companies have released new rules – including one that validates the practice of labeling trout as salmon. reports that, according to the new standards, rainbow trout can now be marked and sold as salmon. CAPPMA’s webpage justifies the move by noting that ‘salmon’ is an umbrella term used to describe members of the Salmonidae family, of which rainbow trout are a member. 

Back in May, a CCTV program revealed that China’s largest salmon production center – Qinghai province’s Longyangxia Reservoir – was actually farming rainbow trout. According to Global Times, Longyangxia Reservoir claims to be responsible for one third of China’s salmon production. 

While the demand in China for salmon has increased in recent years, the abovementioned CCTV report set off alarm bells with some domestic consumers, who – along with media – wondered: can rainbow trout be eaten raw?

In the wake of the Qinghai salmon scandal, some netizens began claiming that trout from the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau is “infested with worms,” according to, and that trout flesh harvested there is colored to more closely resemble salmon.

Rainbow trout in a market in Western Australia. Image via Wikimedia

In response to the online hype, the China Fisheries Association (CFA) came out swinging (or should we say, swimming), addressing a number of netizens’ concerns. 

The association, as CAPPMA would later do, noted that salmon is “not a scientific name for a particular type of fish” and that rainbow trout can be grouped alongside Pacific and Atlantic salmon as part of the same family. The CFA also claimed the color of both salmon and trout flesh is similar due to a carotenoid pigment found in the food given to farmed fish, and that parasites in seafood have to do with the water quality, not whether it is salty or fresh.

According to, the CFA additionally asserted that rainbow trout produced in China are “fed hygienically and quarantined carefully.”

Rainbow trout are a member of the Salmonidae family and are native to freshwater bodies of water west of North America’s Rocky Mountain range, although they have since been introduced around the world. According to National Geographic, the carnivorous species of fish usually live between four to six years in the wild and can grow to lengths of 50-75 centimeters.

[Cover image via Wikimedia]

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