Frequently Asked Questions
#1: How long has Wild Planet been in business?
The company was founded in 2004 by William Carvalho and he was assisted by Bill McCarthy. These two industry veterans, with a combined 60 years of experience, wanted to start a company that addressed the need to preserve the marine habitat while still harvesting wild seafood. It was their vision that these needs could successfully co-exist. Wild Planet Foods realized this vision with a product line of sustainably sourced wild seafood. The wild ocean ecosystem is an abundant food production resource that must remain that way; the name Wild Planet arose from this concept.
#2: How are Wild Planet fish caught?
Our tuna are caught individually using pole and line and troll methods. The pole and line fishing method involves catching tuna one by one, using a pole, line and hook. The troll fishing method involves fishing with a lure on a line that you pull through the water.* These methods ensure that no other marine life is caught or harmed in the process, unlike long-line and FAD (fish aggregating device) purse seine methods which are employed by other tuna companies.
Wild Planet’s pink salmon, sardines, anchovies, mackerel and yellowtail are “free school” purse seine caught and Wild Planet’s sockeye salmon is gill net caught; no FADs are used to attract the fish with either method.
*Troll fishing should not be confused with trawl fishing, which involves a large, wide mouthed fishing net dragged by a vessel along the bottom or midwater.
For more information, please view our page on sustainability and fishing methods.
#3: Can I eat Wild Planet products right out of the can?
Yes, all of our products are fully cooked and safe to eat right out of the can.
#4: Are your fish products wild or farm raised?
#5: Where are your products sourced?
- Albacore Tuna: Pole and line fleets, as well as troll fleets, in the North Pacific working in the United States and Japan. We also source a smaller amount of albacore from troll vessels working in New Zealand
- Skipjack Tuna: Pole and line caught in Japan, Indonesia, or the Maldives by small-scale family fishing vessels
- Sardines: Wild Planet offers two varieties of sardines. Our Pacific sardines, which include nutrient-rich skin and bones, are sourced in the North Pacific. These sardines are caught along the Japanese coast, an abundant, well regulated fishery. Our skinless, boneless sardines, available as fillets, are caught off the Atlantic coast of Morocco.
- Salmon: We offer pink and sockeye Salmon, both sourced in Alaska.
- Anchovies: Primarily in the waters off the Atlantic coast of Morocco and occasionally, off the coast of Peru.
- Yellowtail: Off the coast of Japan
- Mackerel: Off the Atlantic coast of Morocco
- Organic Roasted Chicken Breast: Virginia and West Virginia
#6: Why do I have fewer sardines in my can than usual?
Our sardines are packed by weight rather than number of fish. Each sardine must weigh between 40 and 70 grams, resulting in as many as 5 small sardines or as few as 2 large sardines in each can.
#7: Are Wild Planet albacore and skipjack tuna packed in water or oil?
Our albacore and skipjack tuna has no liquid added; it is simply tuna in its own juices. Our sashimi grade tuna steaks are hand cut and placed in the can, sealed, and then cooked. The liquid present when you open the can is only what was originally in the fish itself. That is why we recommend that you use the liquid, and the nutrition panel is based on the whole contents, both meat and liquid.
An exception to this method is our tuna packed in extra virgin olive oil.
#8: Why is Wild Planet tuna higher in calories than conventional brands?
Since we pack freshly defrosted tuna without precooking, all of the long chain Omega 3 fatty acids are present and these contain calories. The added water in conventional tuna is devoid of both nutrition and calories. This is why Wild Planet tuna is highly potent nutritionally.
#9: What are Omega 3 Fatty Acids?
There are three primary types of Omega 3 fatty acids; ALA, EPA, and DHA.
ALA Omega 3 fatty acids are found in plants like flax and chia.
EPA and DHA Omega 3s are found in fish, shellfish, and marine algae.
While our bodies can convert the plant based ALA Omega 3s into EPA and DHA, the conversion rate in our bodies is very low. So it is important to get EPA and DHA Omega 3 fatty acids from your diet, and Wild Planet seafood is an excellent source of these important EPA/DHA Omegas. Please see our individual product pages to find the combined totals of these Omega 3s in each of our products.
#10: Why is the Omega 3 content higher in Wild Planet tuna?
We cook our tuna only once*, in the can, retaining all of its natural long chain Omega-3 fatty acids. Most conventional brands cook their fish before putting it in the can, thereby losing valuable omega 3’s, then add oil or water to the cooked fish before the final cook/sterilization.
* Please see question number 21 for a more complete explanation of the once cooked process.
#11: Are there other nutritional advantages to eating fish rather than taking Omega 3 supplements?
Research has shown that obtaining Omega 3 fatty acids from food sources may be a better choice than using supplements. While concentrated fish oil capsules may be a good way of obtaining isolated Omega 3s, that refining process can eliminate other necessary nutrients that are present in whole fish, such as calcium, Vitamin D, and the anti-oxidant selenium. Research has also shown that the absorption of Omega 3s, as well as the blood pressure regulating properties of Omega 3s, are much improved when they are consumed in whole fish. This is due to the presence of these additional nutrients, proteins and co-factors. Additionally, studies have linked long term use of fish oil supplements with various fatty liver disease conditions.
#12: What are the some functions of long chain Omega-3 fatty acids found in fish?
EPA and DHA Omega 3s are important for many functions, including inflammation.
Every cell in our body is surrounded by a cell membrane composed mostly of fatty acids. This membrane allows the necessary amounts of nutrients to enter the cell and ensures that waste products are quickly removed. EPA Omega 3 is one type of fatty acid involved in this process.
Resolvins help to explain how EPA provides anti-inflammatory effects on our joints and how it improves blood flow. They are a recently identified lipid, or fat, made from EPA by our cellular enzymes. They work by inhibiting the production of, as well as regulating the migration of, inflammatory cells and chemicals to sites of inflammation. Unlike anti-inflammatory drugs such as aspirin, ibuprofen and the COX-2 inhibitors, the resolvins that our bodies produce from EPA do not have negative side effects on our gastrointestinal or cardiovascular systems.
These EPA Omega 3s are only found in fatty fish, shellfish and marine algae.
#13: What measures do we take to minimize the amount of mercury in our tuna?
The average mercury content of tuna rises with the age and size of the fish. Wild Planet only sources pole and line as well as troll caught tuna, which are the younger and smaller, migratory tuna that are caught near the surface. These fish (3-5 years of age) have accumulated lower levels of mercury as compared to older and larger tuna (6-12 years old) which live at much lower depths and in a different part of the Pacific Ocean. Our annual testing protocol, summarized in the accompanying document, verifies that Wild Planet tuna products average 0.067PPM for Skipjack (which is 14 times lower than the FDA “Action Limit” of 1.0PPM) and 0.17PPM for Albacore (which is six times lower than the FDA “Action Limit” of 1.0PPM). Wild Planet has been controlling the average and range of mercury in its products since 2004 and continues to do so. Please read the Wild Planet perspective on this topic here: The Wild Planet Perspective: Mercury Content In Tuna.
For information on FDA fish consumption recommendations based on mercury screening values, you may also view these three individual charts, each tailored for Adults, Children, or Pregnant Women.
What cautions are in order when considering a brand’s claim of “lowest mercury level?” See this link to read some thoughts from Wild Planet Foods: A Few Words About Mercury.
#14: How is Wild Planet’s offering of smaller, younger fish consistent with a sustainability mission when these fish haven’t had a chance to breed?
There are two fishing segments targeting albacore worldwide; surface fisheries which catch migratory juveniles, and deep-water long-line, which captures spawning stock. Young migrating fish caught by pole and line are not the babies, but the three to five year old fish that weight 9-25 pounds each. Fishermen avoid fishing on schools that are smaller than 9 pounds and the US buyers do not accept those smaller fish, either. The west coast pole and line and troll fisheries *, for example, capture less than 15% of the migrating bio-mass which means that 85% of the fish will return to spawning stocks. This escapement is acceptable in order to sustain the population of the species.
* For a definition of pole and line and troll fisheries, please see question #2
#15: Why is Wild Planet tuna more expensive than conventional brands?
First of all, we use only the highest quality fish. In addition, sustainable harvest methods are more costly to practice, and the smaller fish caught yield less meat recovery in comparison with long-line caught fish. Also, our tuna is hand-cut and packed, which is a labor-intensive process.
Finally, we pack 100% tuna and sea salt; no liquid is added. So you get a 5oz whole steak in every can; compared to 3.5 ounces of tuna and the rest water or oil, as found in conventional tuna brands. This results in 40% more tuna per can, making once cooked Wild Planet tuna an outstanding value.
#16: Is there mercury or other chemicals in Wild Planet salmon?
All of our salmon are wild-caught from clean, clear waters in Alaska. Because of their shorter lifespan of three years, they do not have the chance to accumulate higher amounts of mercury and other contaminants. This makes salmon an excellent choice for their high Omega 3s, high protein, and low levels of contaminants. FDA tests of canned salmon show it to average 0.014ppm; Wild Planet tests of its pink salmon average 0.013ppm.
#17: What are the small crystals resembling glass that are occasionally found in canned seafood?
These harmless crystals, called struvite, are formed by magnesium, ammonia and phosphate, elements occurring naturally in seafood. Sometimes, during the cooking process, these elements crystallize to form what looks like tiny particles of glass. They are safe if consumed, as natural stomach acids will dissolve the crystals, which are then absorbed by the body. They also dissolve when boiled in lemon juice or vinegar.
#18: Why aren’t Wild Planet tuna, sardines and anchovies canned in the U.S?
It is Wild Planet’s mission not only to produce sustainable seafood, helping our oceans to thrive, but to produce that seafood at a cost which the average family can afford. To accomplish this, we have elected to process our albacore and skipjack tuna, sardines, yellowtail, mackerel and anchovies in state-of-the-art partner facilities in Vietnam, Thailand, Morocco, Ecuador and occasionally Peru. Each of these canneries is required to meet international sanitation and worker welfare standards, and they are by third-party audited to ensure continued compliance. We are pleased to share these photos from our cannery in Vietnam.
Since Wild Planet sources from environmentally exemplary fisheries around the world, our selection of strategically located canning facilities noted above also results in fewer transportation miles. Please read the Wild Planet perspective on this topic here: The Wild Planet Perspective: Processing Facility in Vietnam.
When possible we partner with US canneries. Wild Planet Sockeye and Pink Salmon are canned in Alaska, near the fisheries, and Wild Planet Organic Roasted Chicken Breast is canned in Georgia, near the sustainable family farms where the chickens are raised.
#19: Are Wild Planet products gluten-free?
Wild Planet does not use gluten in any form. Wild Planet tuna, salmon and chicken are packed in their own natural juices, and are available with or without sea salt. Our sardines, yellowtail, mackerel and anchovies are packed in water, organic extra virgin olive oil, or marinara sauce, all of which are naturally free of gluten. One type of WP albacore is canned in organic extra virgin olive oil, with no gluten.
A third party testing agency has found gluten to be non-detectable in all Wild Planet products, and we continue to monitor gluten presence through third party testing.
If you would like more specific allergen information, please call or email our Customer Service department, and we will be happy to answer your questions.
#20: Do Wild Planet products contain soy or soy-based ingredients?
None of our products contain soy in any form. Unlike many brands of tuna, Wild Planet tuna does not contain vegetable broth, hydrolyzed vegetable proteins or any other liquids or fillers, which often contain soy. Wild Planet tuna, as well as our salmon and chicken, are packed in their own natural juices, and are available with or without sea salt. A note of possible concern is our Organic Roasted Chicken Breast. The diet of the chickens is supplemented with both soy and corn. For those with extreme allergies it is recommended that an allergist be consulted to determine if that may be an issue.
An exception to the once cooked process is our albacore tuna in olive oil. It is twice cooked like our sardines, yellowtail, mackerel and anchovies. These twice cooked products are packed in organic extra virgin olive oil, water, or marinara sauce, none of which contain soy. Our Pink Shrimp (discontinued 2018) is packed with natural citric as well as water and salt.
#21: Sometimes my tuna, chicken or salmon has brownish spots, and sometimes there appears to be less meat, why is that?
Variation in the meat to liquid ratio and browning are both due to natural variation and our once cooked process.
Our salmon, chicken, and tuna (albacore and skipjack) are processed using the once cooked method, wherein the meat is placed in the can, sealed, and then cooked. It is completely cooked and ready to eat right out of the can.
Since no liquid is added, the only liquid present in the can comes from the fat and juices that cook out of the fish/chicken. When the tuna, salmon or chicken is more lean, and hence higher in protein, there might not be enough fat and juice to completely surround the meat with liquid as it cooks. This results in brownish spots, or caramelization. Please view this example of the brownish spots, or caramelization in the can.
Conversely, if the fish/chicken is higher in fat, more liquid will cook out and this may give the impression of less meat in the can. However, all cans are packed with the same amount of meat and no liquids are added. It is natural variation that will cause the meat to liquid ratio to vary.
We encourage our customers to break up the meat and allow the liquid to reabsorb. There are beneficial long chain Omega 3 fatty acids in the salmon and tuna, and small particles of protein, called peptides, in all three products. The nutrition panels are based on the whole contents, meat and liquid.
The exception to this is the albacore tuna which we pack in olive oil; it is twice cooked and will not exhibit as much natural variation.
#22: Why do my sardines sometimes appear very solid and completely intact, while other times they appear messy, with the skin dislodged?
Sardines have natural variation and the fat content may range from 4-25%. Colder waters and recent feeding will result in a fattier sardine, while warmer waters and not having recently fed will result in a more lean sardine. If you open a can of sardines that seems messy and the skin is dislodged, this indicates very fatty sardines. Since the fat is just below the skin, the skin is dislodged as the fat liquefies during cooking. This fat is composed of long chain Omega 3 fatty acids which are only available from fatty fish, shellfish, and marine algae. If you open a can to find beautiful, intact sardines, those are leaner and are higher in protein. The more sardines you eat, the more variations you will see!
#23: What is Wild Planet doing to address the concerns about the possibility of radiation exposure to tuna and sardines as a result of the 2011 tsunami in Japan and the subsequent damage to the Fukushima nuclear power plant?
Our president and founder, Bill Carvalho, has written an informative document regarding radiation in Wild Planet products. Please see this link for a pdf of this document: Wild Planet Radiation Statement.
Please read the Wild Planet perspective on this topic here: The Wild Planet Perspective: Radiation in Wild Planet Seafood.
#24: What is Wild Planet’s position on Marine Reserves?
Marine reserves or protected areas with either limited or prohibited fishing are generally accepted as effective conservation measures. Wild Planet Foods supports the creation and enforcement of marine reserves. Read more at: Wild-Planet-Position-Statement-on-Marine-Reserves.
#25: Why isn’t Wild Planet MSC-certified?
Wild Planet has elected to not use the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) as a certifying agency. Please read the Wild Planet perspective on this topic here: The Wild Planet Perspective: MSC Certification.
#26: Does Wild Planet use packaging containing BPA?
With the exception of our Pink Shrimp (discontinued 2018) all of Wild Planet’s products are packed in cans that do not have the intentional addition of BPA. Please read the Wild Planet perspective on this topic here: The Wild Planet Perspective: BPA (Bisphenol A).
#27: Why are the pull tabs so hard to open?
It is a fine line to produce a scoring line that will hold the seal and yet be manageable to open. Our President, Bill Carvalho explains: “It is important to make the scoring heavy enough so as be shelf stable and resist rupture, but light enough to allow opening”.
While these can sometimes be challenging to open, Wild Planet chooses to use these lids because the majority of our customers prefer this convenient style of opening. Many customers take the can to work or other remote locations to enjoy away from the kitchen. And since they are nutrient dense and shelf stable, they are an excellent choice for emergency go bags.
If you have difficulty opening the cans, please contact our customer service department.
#28: Why do Wild Planet labels change?
Wild Planet labels and nutrition panels will change occasionally. The following are reasons for these changes:
- Updates to FDA labeling requirements
- Changes in the product due to a change in harvest/processing site, or a change in nutritional content due to natural variation
- Cosmetic changes so that labels are easier to read and more appealing.
The following link shows an upcoming change in FDA labeling requirements: Changes to the Nutrition Facts Label..
If you have any other questions, please use our Contact Us page.
#29: If the oceans are being overfished and wrongly fished, wouldn’t it make sense to stop fishing altogether?
Consumers have inquired whether the best practice might be to stop fishing entirely. Please read the Wild Planet perspective on this topic here: The Wild Planet Perspective: Why Responsible Fishing Supports Global Food Security.
#30: What is the dark meat in my salmon?
This dark meat in salmon, called the fat line, is a stored reserve of fats (Omega 3s). Salmon swim thousands of miles, storing up fat which they will need to migrate, often hundreds of miles, up rivers to spawn. This is necessary because they don’t eat once they enter the freshwater of the rivers. Depending on the species of salmon, the season, and other factors, the thickness of the fat can vary, but all salmon have it. Some of the highest Omega 3 levels are found in the darker flesh, so it is excellent for you. That being said, not everyone likes to eat the dark meat, and some restaurants and fish markets remove it for aesthetic reasons. We opt to leave it in as it adds to the nutritive value of our canned salmon, and keeps with our sustainability mission by using all of the meat.
#31: What is Wild Planet’s position on the safety and welfare of the fishing and cannery labor we use to produce our products?
Recent news reports have brought attention to the heinous practice of forced and slave labor present aboard some Thailand-flagged fishing vessels operating multi-nationally. Wild Planet only buys seafood products from smaller-scale local vessels fishing in their own domestic waters. This is a positive benefit of our 100% pole and line sourcing policy. We do not buy from the large-scale fishing operations plying international waters. Our fish are caught aboard vessels fishing in compliance with local employment laws and discharging their catch in local, domestic ports. Further addressing labor issues, our international processing facilities are subject to annual Code of Conduct audits by third party firms for compliance with country-specific social welfare standards and labor laws and regulations. Every business at each stage of our supply chain, from fishery to sales in the U.S and abroad is verified for compliance.
#32: I would like to see Wild Planet change something, such as introducing a new product line or changes in the labeling… how can my voice be heard?
Please let us know about your wished-for-change through our Contact Us page. We are a relatively small company and are always seeking to expand and improve. We are happy to hear what our customers would like, and will be adding new products as time goes on.
#33: How do your various products compare in nutritional values?
For your convenience, we’ve compiled charts of all Wild Planet products and their current nutritional values. Click here to view the charts.
#34: Are your products safe to consume past the Best By date?
The dates which we imprint on our shelf-stable products are to inform consumers of their best “quality” dates, not “safety” dates. As per the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, if a product is stored properly, it should still be safe to consume after its “Best By” date. You may read more information on the FDA’s Food Facts.
As an additional resource, you may also visit the FoodKeeper, a guide shared by the FDA, which lists how long food should keep if stored properly. According to this resource, shelf-stable canned goods, such as fish, should be consumed within 2-5 years of the production date. They “…will be safe to eat well past the ‘use-by’ or ‘best by’ date as long as the can shows no dents, rust, or swelling.”
#35: Why does the color of my salmon/tuna look off?
Tuna and salmon can both vary in the color of their meat, and since we do not use any whiteners or processing agents, you will see the actual color of the fish in our cans.
Wild salmon get their color by eating zooplankton, krill, and shrimp. These contain a reddish-orange compound called astaxanthin. That shrimp-heavy diet is also what turns flamingos pink. The degree of pigment is determined by the amount of astaxanthin in the diet, and also the fish’s ability to synthesize it. There can be variation among salmon from red to pink to light tan, and even to white in some king salmon. The meat will become lighter when fully cooked, as the canned salmon is. Canned pink salmon can range from pink to tan and nearly white, while sockeye salmon can vary from red to light pink. These are all normal variations.
While albacore are the only tuna that legally can be called white, they are not always white! Their color can range from pink to tan, even a little yellow or orange, and all the way to white. Like salmon, their color is also affected by diet. Albacore eat mostly cephalopods (squid, octopus and nautilus), and also fish, crustaceans, and gelatinous organisms. Tuna feeding on squid are more yellow or orange in color. The flesh of tuna feeding on crustaceans such as krill and shrimp will have a pink hue due to the astaxanthin content.
Wild Planet’s insistence on canning only high quality, once cooked fish without processing agents allows the true color and natural variation to shine through!