FAQs

Here are interesting questions we've received from our customers, which are very informative:

Who owns Pure Alaska Salmon Company LLC and how long have you been in business?

Jim and Shirley Zuanich own Pure Alaska Salmon Company.  Jim has been commercially fishing for salmon in Alaska for over 45 years. The Zuanich family of Pure Alaska Salmon Company LLC, has a very long fishing history. Our Croatian ancestors fished the Adriatic Sea for centuries. We have continued this tradition, fishing the pristine waters of Alaska for over a hundred years. An anthropology  professor cousin speculates that Zuaniches have continuously fished for over 1,000 years!

We started Pure Alaska Salmon Company LLC because we knew what great product canned wild Alaska salmon is, and we wanted to try our hand at marketing it.  You can read more about us in  “About Us” section.

Is Pure Alaska Salmon Company LLC salmon sustainably harvested?

You betcha, it wouldn’t be any other way! We commercially fish in Alaska, and have for decades. The Alaska salmon resource was the first in the nation to be awarded the Marine Stewardship Council award for stewardship and sustainability.   The highly respected Monterrey Bay SEAWATCH program puts wild Alaska salmon as one of ten “Super Foods.” Numerous other authorities put Alaska salmon as a Best Choice for consumers to enjoy.  Check out this link for the environmental groups that endorse the Alaska salmon fishery.

How are Pure Alaska Salmon Company LLC salmon harvested?

The below links show what you need to know about where your salmon comes from:

Alaska Historical Commercial Salmon Catches

Salmon Fisheries in Alaska: Species and Gear Types

Redhead wild sockeye salmon are caught in either gillnets or purse seines or set nets.  Thinkpink pink salmon are caught in purse seines.

Noting the environmental accolades discussed on our Sustainability page, all fishing methods used in Alaska win a green light from authorities who have studied such issues and have deemed them as environmentally sound fishing practices..  Gillnetting and purse seining, as done in Alaska, are very selective and low impact fisheries.  Jim Zuanich, in 45 years of running a purse seine boat estimates he has killed three birds and no marine mammals.   Like many things in life good things done in excess or irresponsibly can wrongly lend a bad name to the whole lot.

Alaska salmon industry could not win the environmental awards that it has were these fishing methods not sound.  The State of Alaska constitution mandates that the fisheries be managed first and foremost for the health of the fish runs and the environment. The Alaska Department of Fish and Game, and the fishing fleet scrupulously honors this mandate.  So, in addition to all of the health attributes, you can enjoy wild Alaska canned salmon without guilt!

What is so special about wild Alaska Salmon?

You would be hard pressed to find a protein, or any food that matter, as fine as Alaska salmon.   It is an incredible marriage of nutritious-ness and deliciousness (and let’s not forget convenience and purity!) that is also an abundant and sustainable wild resource of the United States.

Great food, unmatched nutrition, accessible to everyone, reasonably priced, and guilt free eating, who could ask for more!  For those folks who are conscious of animal welfare, as we are at Pure Alaska Salmon Company LLC, but who aren’t ready to entirely give up meat, take heart that wild Alaska salmon have pretty much enjoyed a natural wild life cycle in an environment that is pristine.

What is unique about Redhead and Thinkpink wild Alaska canned salmon?

All wild Alaska canned salmon is a great food choice; of that there is no doubt.  We get our salmon from the same magnificent resource as all other Alaska salmon, whether it expensive or gourmet quality and price.  It is all very, very low mercury and it is all very, very nutritious.

However, as a fishing family, we have a closer connection to the resource than distribution companies.  Being a wild product, there are distinct and nuanced variations in quality. Those variations have to do with the stage of the run, how crammed the canneries are, and where the fish are caught.  Pure Alaska salmon is absolute top quality, and we have tried to keep the price affordable and yet worthy of the quality of the protein.

You can read more on this subject, if you wish, in the “About Us” section.

Why is red salmon more expensive than pink salmon?

Supply and demand and a historic bias for red salmon account for the cost differential. We have done blind taste tests, and when people don’t know which fish they are eating, statistically they report a slight preference for pink over red. When tasters state a bias, they generally insist that red is best.

We at Pure Alaska speculate that this preference was established in the days before boat refrigeration, when reds held up in the hatches of fishing boats far better than the more delicate pinks. Admittedly, pink salmon was not a very appetizing food back then. In the past twenty years the Alaska salmon-fishing fleet has invested in chilled circulating seawater fish holds, and this has vastly increased the quality of canned salmon.

The salmon are pulled directly from the cold, clear waters and put into the fish holds where they remain until processed at the cannery – typically the same day. The quality of all canned wild Alaska salmon has increased immensely, but the lowly pink salmon has really been transformed.

What’s the difference between Redhead and Thinkpink salmon?

Thinkpink salmon is relatively inexpensive; Redhead salmon costs more. When red and pink salmon are pulled fresh from the sea their flesh is, in fact, distinctly red or pink. The cooking process of canning reduces coloration in both. Red or sockeye salmon are actually reddish pink, and pink salmon looks more like tuna. Red salmon gets its enhanced color from eating krill, a type of small shrimp. Pinks are the most abundant salmon, followed by reds.

Pink salmon, upon hatching, go directly to the sea, whereas red salmon spend over a year in fresh water. Red salmon need a lake or other large body of fresh water in which to grow. The largest red salmon run in the world by far is in Bristol Bay, Alaska, an area uniquely blessed with a system of saltwater bays and freshwater lakes.

The world’s largest pink salmon runs are located in Southeast Alaska, which has a mild climate coupled with abundant rainfall, and thousands of short streams running from landfall directly to the sea.  Alaska is a very sparsely populated state with little polluting industry. Nutritionally, the two types are nearly identical. Though all wild salmon are extraordinary sources of Vitamin D, red or sockeye salmon is the king with 795 IU per 3.5 oz serving.

What is Redhead and Thinkpink packed in?

Just a salmon steak and a bit of salt; no oil or water is added.   When you open the can, there will be quite a bit of oily liquid, but that comes from the fish.  Add that wonderful broth to whatever recipe you are using, and whatever is left over, share it with your grateful pet, they know what is good for them.

How do Omega-3’s work?

The body prefers to use omega-3 fatty acids as cell-membrane building materials. Cell membranes constructed of polyunsaturated omega-3 fatty acids (rather than saturated fats) are more elastic and are better able to rest and relax, a crucial cell action. In fact, this “rest and relax” attribute is said to explain why an omega-rich diet greatly reduces cardiac death.  Also, cell membranes constructed of omega-3 fatty acids are thought to better transmit electrical impulses through the body and between the cells better than cells constructed of saturated fats. Cell membranes constructed of omega-3’s, have been likened to the superiority of using copper wire, over other metals, to transmit electrical impulses.  One theory has it that this superior transmission of electrical impulses between cells is key in cancer prevention as well as in optimizing various other neurological functions. An excellent and comprehensive resource can be found at the following site:

http://www.alaskaseafood.org/health/WhatsNewOmega3s.htm

The author, Joyce Nettleton, is Harvard educated PhD nutritionist hired by the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute.  She is a very highly regarded scientist., who takes a measured approach, and is not, after looking through many different sources, a shill for the industry.

What are the Health Benefits of Omega-3’s?

HEART HEALTH

It is well established that eating fish, especially coldwater fatty fish such as Alaska salmon have many profound benefits to heart health and health in general.  The American Heart Association, the American Stroke Association, the Arthritis Foundation and the American Diabetes Association would not recommend eating fish, particularly cold water fatty fish, at least two times per week were the benefits not so well documented and compelling.

In general, people who eat sufficient seafood are healthier than those who don’t.

It is estimated that 90% of the U.S. population does not consume enough omega-3’s.

Prior to the adoption of a more Westernized diet, rates of heart disease and diabetes were very little among Eskimos and Inuit peoples, whose traditional diets were very high in fat.  This key observation is the one that clued modern science to the truth about fats, and how they are not all created equal!  The following is a list of documented and theorized benefits of Omega-3 fatty acids.

Heart benefits:

  • Maintenance of healthy heart rhythms
  • Reduce the chance of sudden cardiac death
  • Reduce the chance of stroke
  • Reduce the incidence of first heart attack
  • Reduce inflammation
  • Improve blood lipid patterns
  • Increase HDL or ‘good’ cholesterol levels
  • Decrease blood pressure
  • Reduce incidence of blood clots
  • Better blood vessel function
  • Improve the heart’s ability to adapt heart rate
  • Stabilize arterial plaques

For further information go to:

http://www.alaskaseafood.org/health/documents/heart_health_benefits.pdf

http://mylifecheck.heart.org/Multitab.aspx?NavID=10&CultureCode=en-US

http://www.diabetes.org/food-and-fitness/food/what-can-i-eat/diabetes-superfoods.html

http://www.arthritistoday.org/nutrition-and-weight-loss/healthy-eating/food-and-inflammation/fatty-acids-benefits.php

EMERGING SCIENCE POINTS TOWARDS THESE BENEFITS OF OMEGA-3’S:

  • Optimize fetal brain and vision development
  • Positive impact on visual function
  • Lowered chance of developing type 2 diabetes
  • Improvement in symptoms of various inflammatory conditions
  • Improved mental function and mood

For further information go to:

http://www.alaskaseafood.org/health/documents/staying_healthy.pdf

How much Vitamin D is in canned Wild Alaska Salmon?

Vitamin D is naturally present in very few foods and wild Alaska salmon is one of the richest sources of Vitamin D.  It is arguably the most delicious source of Vitamin D.

The flesh of certain fish, such as salmon, and fish liver oils are among the best sources.   Small amounts of vitamin D are found in beef liver, cheese, and egg yolks.

Here is a quick comparison chart, with data supplied by the USDA:

Redhead, sockeye salmon, 100 g/ 3.5 oz canned 795 IU*
Thinkpink, pink salmon, 100 g/ 3.5 oz canned 466 IU
Tuna, white or Albacore, canned in water, 100 g/ 3.5 oz 80 IU
Tuna, chunk light, canned in water, 100g/3.5 oz 181 IU
Mackerel, canned, 100g/3.5 oz 292 IU
Egg, 1 whole (vitamin D is in the yolk) 25 IU
Cheese, Swiss, 1 oz 6 IU
Milk, 8 oz. nonfat, reduced fat, or whole 115-124 IU

* International Unit

How much Vitamin D do we need?

Vitamin D is essential for promoting calcium absorption, maintenance of healthy bones and the optimal function of the neuromuscular and immune systems.   It also reduces inflammation in the body.  There is much ongoing research being done to identify other functions that Vitamin D plays in the body.   Some authorities think that perhaps we need more than the currently recommended dosages.

The following is a table of the recommended in takes of Vitamin D by the Food and Nutrition Board (FNB) by the National Institute of Health.

Age Children Men Women Pregnancy Lactation
Birth to 13yrs 200 *IU
14-18 yrs 200 IU 200 IU 200 IU 200 IU
19-50 yrs 200 IU 200 IU 200 IU 200 IU
51-70 yrs 400 IU 400 IU
71+ yrs 600 IU 600 IU

*IU means International Unit

For further information go to the following: http://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/ or http://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminD-Consumer.asp

Breast Feeding and Vitamin D

In 2008, the American Pediatric Academy recommended that children birth to 18 years take in 400 IU’s per day.  Breast milk does not supply Vitamin D, therefore breast feeding infants diet should be supplemented with 400 IU’s per day until they are weaned, at which time their diets, be it through Vitamin D enhanced formula or milk or further supplementation should supply 400 IUs of Vitamin D.

Sun exposure and Vitamin D

Some people can meet their need for Vitamin D through exposure to the sunlight. Generally UV energy available above 42 degrees north latitude (between the northern border of California and Boston) is not sufficient for vitamin D synthesis from November through February, and further north, sunlight may not be sufficient for up to six months of the year. Between the 34 degree latitude (Los Angeles to Columbia, South Carolina) there is enough sunlight year around.  But even in these sunny climates there are concerns about skin damage due to over exposure to the sun. Time of day, cloud cover, smog, skin melanin content, and sunscreen are also factors that affect the ability of the body to synthesize Vitamin D from sunlight.

Why Not Take Fish Oil Capsules or Plant-Based Sources of Omega-3’s?

Is there mercury is in Alaska salmon?

People of all ages and stages, including pregnant moms and babies can eat Alaska salmon unlimitedly because there is so little mercury, if any, in Alaska salmon.

The State of Alaska has an extensive fish monitoring program.  Alaska salmon is tested annually.   The United States Environmental Protection Agency and the Food and Drug Administration have set the bar at 1 parts per million for mercury in the flesh of fish as a ‘safe’ level.  It should be noted that Canada and Japan have set the bar at half that, .5 parts per million.  Alaska salmon have less than .05 parts per million, or 20 times less than the lowest level of concern for the U.S. or 10 times less than the lowest level of concern for the more stringent standards set by Canada or Japan.  The USDA’s tests of canned salmon simply say, “ND,” or not detectable.

There is evidence that the Vitamin E and selenium found in abundance in Alaska salmon, serves as strong buffers against methyl mercury toxicity.

It is very interesting that hair samples taken with permission from 550 year old mummies of Alaskan Aleut natives were tested for mercury.  In all eight individuals, the levels of mercury were about the same or even a little more than Alaskan hair samples tested in recent years. This result tells us that mercury is naturally present in the environment.

For more information: http://www.epi.hss.state.ak.us/eh/fish/default.htm#guidelines

Or http://www.alaskaseafood.org/health/documents/Seafood-WeighingtheBenefitsandRisks.pdf

Three factors contribute to Alaska wild salmon’s remarkable purity:

*Wild Alaska salmon are short-lived fish that feed very “low” on the food chain.  Pink and red salmon live only two to four years, weighing 4 to 5 pounds and 5 to 7 pounds, respectively. As a rule, larger, longer-lived fish (which in turn eat other long-lived fish found “high” on the food chain) present higher levels of mercury in their flesh.

*Wild salmon are filter feeders, not predatory fish. Predating species such as swordfish, tuna and others, ingest and retain contaminants like mercury from their prey. Predatory fish are exposed to more mercury pollution through the escalating process of bioaccumulation, whereas salmon filter smaller, simpler organisms from the water.

*Environment is everything! Wild Alaska salmon inhabit the pristine waters of the North Pacific and its surrounding landmass, an area millions of miles square that suffers little to no industrial pollution. Airborne pollution from coal-burning power plants is considered the chief source of methyl mercury contamination in the ocean, but little of this contamination impacts Alaska salmon. The United States Food and Drug Administration lists canned wild salmon as showing no detectable mercury.

Why do wild Alaska salmon contain so little mercury?

Three factors contribute to Alaska wild salmon’s remarkable purity:

  • Wild Alaska salmon are short-lived fish that feed very “low” on the food chain. Pink and red salmon live only two to four years, weighing 4 to 5 pounds and 5 to 7 pounds, respectively. As a rule, larger, longer-lived fish (which in turn eat other long-lived fish found “high” on the food chain) present higher levels of mercury in their flesh.
  • Wild salmon are filter feeders, not predatory fish. Predating species such as swordfish, tuna and others, ingest and retain contaminants like mercury from their prey. Predatory fish are exposed to more mercury pollution through the escalating process of bioaccumulation, whereas salmon filter smaller, simpler organisms from the water.
  • Environment is everything! Wild Alaska salmon inhabit the pristine waters of the North Pacific and its surrounding land mass, an area millions of miles square that suffers little to no industrial pollution. Airborne pollution from coal-burning power plants is considered the chief source of methyl mercury contamination in the ocean, but little of this contamination impacts Alaska salmon. The United States Food and Drug Administration lists canned wild salmon as showing no detectable mercury.

Is mercury a big deal?

People who most need protection from mercury intake are women of child-bearing age and children under the age of three. Mercury is known to cause detrimental and irreversible effects on neurological development in fetuses and young children. This impairment is typically expressed as mild learning and behavioral disorders, although damage can range in severity. For other segments of the population mercury, while always a matter for caution, is not nearly so threatening. In adults it is excretable and has not been found to produce irreversible health effects except in cases of extreme exposure. It is believed that most methyl mercury exposure occurs by eating contaminated seafood. An excellent article on the subject of tuna and mercury appeared in the July 2006 Consumers Report or can be read on the web at:

http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/food/tuna- safety/overview/0607_tuna_ov.htm

http://www.alaskaseafood.org/health/documents/healthy_mother-FINAL-PDF.pdf

Tuna vs. Wild Alaska Salmon — Alaska Salmon is the Hands Down Winner

Tuna is still a great food choice, far better than many other protein choices, in our opinion. We at Pure Alaska Salmon Company LLC do not presume to enter into the controversies over frequency of safe consumption. There are definitely some U.S. companies that sustainably harvest and process an excellent tuna product.  We enjoy a good tuna sandwich our selves.

That said, we offer this list of important reasons to consider canned Alaska salmon as an alternative to your familiar preferences. Wild canned Alaska salmon offers:

  • Five times the health enhancing omega-3’s as “grocery store, conventional”, chunk light tuna, twice that of albacore tuna (USDA)
  • Many times over the vitamin D as tuna (this depends upon whether we are comparing sockeye or pink salmon or Albacore or chunk light tuna)
  • No (or negligible) detectable mercury
  • Flavor and appearance similar or better than (especially Thinkpink) first rate albacore
  • An American product that provides thousands of jobs at every phase of its production — in an enviro-friendly, sustainable manner
  • Harvested at the last stages of the salmon’s complete life cycle

People find the more they use canned wild Alaska salmon, the more they use it.  It is just a great source of protein, and is so easy to use!

What about the sodium in canned salmon?

Canned salmon has 270 mg sodium per ¼ cup serving. While salt intake is certainly a concern for some consumers, a slice of bread, by comparison, has 240 mg sodium.  Some customers who are especially concerned about salt intake have shared that they drain the salmon in a colander and will even spray it with cold water to minimize any added salt that might be present.

Why are the skin and bone in the can?

Alaska salmon arrive at the canneries in such huge volumes, in such a short period of time, that the task of skinning and boning would be prohibitive.  Alaska salmon canneries generally sit idle for nine months of the year, waiting for the next run.  The vast majority of skinless, boneless fish of all types, including tuna, are frozen, shipped to Thailand, China, American Samoa or Mexico, thawed, skinned and deboned and then canned again.

Pure Alaska encourages people to embrace those wonderful pure, incredibly nutritious skin and bones.  Thirty percent of the omega-3’s reside in the skin and fatty layer, and the soft digestible bones are rich in calcium. We have sampled salmon to tens of thousands of people and not a single one has detected the skin and bone in our salmon salad.  Like any other meat, the skin and bone also add flavor, and the quality of the product is greatly enhanced by the reduced handling. Freshness is the key to good quality canned salmon.

I found what looks like little pieces of glass in my can of salmon. What is it?

What look like glass is actually ‘struvite,’ a normal and absolutely natural composite of harmless mineral elements occasionally found in all seafood products when they undergo the canning process. These are the natural constituents that come from the seawater in which fish or shellfish live.  The cooking process of canning sometimes acts to combine these minerals in a way which produces crystals.  There is no way to predict in which cans the struvite will occur and it is utterly harmless.  A quick stir will dissolve these crystals.

Like the skin and bone in the cans of traditional pack salmon, rejoice in the naturalness of this great food product.

For more information go to:

http://www.fpa-food.org/content/consumers/crystals.asp

Sometimes when I open a can, it really smells ‘fishy,’ why is that?

Even we who live on fishing boats for prolonged periods, will be taken aback by that ‘fishy’ puff.  Like the skin and bone, this is a sign of the wonderful wildness of this magnificent food product.  That fishy odor, much like the smell of camping trip or a day at the beach, puppy breath or movie popcorn, is the sign of something good and real.  As wild product there cannot be the eerie uniformity of a genetically modified product, much as one would find with farmed salmon, though the Alaska salmon processers are highly skilled at quality control of this vast national food resource.

We find that keeping a few cans in the refrigerator for use when we are mixing up a salad or a sandwich reduces that puff, and makes for a better recipe result.

What is the shelf life of a can of salmon?

Six years after canning is the date given by the processors.  The expiration date is stamped on the bottom of the can.  We have heard that some folks think that like fine wine, the salmon improves with age.  It is a real miracle that you could go to the middle of the most land locked place on earth, and open that can of salmon, and dig into the finest seafood on earth.

That is why we say, everybody, everywhere, anytime can enjoy wild Alaska salmon when you buy it in a can.

Post partum depression and canned Alaska salmon — Important Personal Testimony:

Shirley Zuanich became even more a believer in wild Alaska salmon 32 years ago when she experienced post partum depression upon the birth of her second child.  Post partum depression is a very frightening condition, made even worse by the incongruity of deep depression right when the new mother would seemingly be happy and needs to be functioning at tip top.

That awful period of my life left me with two wonderful gifts — the habits of daily exercise and eating abundant wild Alaska salmon.

Exercise was an obvious antidote to depression, but I thought I was just hopelessly biased in noting that I felt better on the days I ate canned salmon for lunch.  I ate it anyway, and in time I got over this phase.

Scientific evidence now provides abundant support for what I blessedly stumbled upon in those dark times.  Omega 3 fatty acids have a powerful effect upon brain function, development and mood.  I notice even now when I am having a high pressure day, eating salmon at lunch really seems to support my mind and mood in a unique and powerfully beneficial way.  Try it.

Is Bisphenol (BPA) used in can linings?

A question we have received several times is whether Bisphenol (BPA) is used in the linings of our cans.  We at Pure Alaska Salmon Co LLC were initially mistaken in thinking that there is no BPA in Alaska canned salmon, and to those folks we unintentionally misinformed, we apologize.  It was a genuine mistake.

There is no bisphenol in the cans, but there is on the can lids, so that explains the misinformation received before.  This summer 50% of our can lids will not have BPA, and by the following summer there will be no can lids coated with BPA.   It will take a few years for the BPA from canned foods to be completely cleared from the food chain.  The  food industry seems to be very sensitive of the BPA issue.

As Alaska salmon, relative to many other proteins, is still a natural wonder, and as canned Alaska salmon makes the consumption of Alaska salmon affordable and available to everyone,   I think the risk of BPA in the lid of a can  salmon is worth it but maybe that warm water in a plastic bottle I occasionally sip on in my car is not.

As Pure Alaska Salmon Company LLC is promoting the more frequent use of canned wild Alaska salmon, with special effort towards kids and families, this revelation about BPA was troubling.  We look forward to the day when BPA is no longer a question.  Some  say that BPA is a poison, but I liken it to car exhaust or many other noxious non-point effluents from our industrialized society.  I  also recall a piece of interesting info from an organic chemistry class I took years ago–the most carcinogenic thing in the world is peanut mold- aflatoxin–so poisons are everywhere-even peanut butter!

In the mean time, the amount of BPA is our cans meets European standards.   Europe has especially stringent standards for food safety.   For example,  European standards for mercury is half that as for the U.S.   There is some comfort that if the Europeans think this is acceptable, then maybe it is okay for now.