Grocery store chain Albertsons—which operates stores such as Safeway, Vons, and Jewel-Osco across the United States—recently phased out freshwater eel from its sushi products. In 2018, Albertsons pledged to stop selling wild eel products because their populations are in decline and raising farmed eel is equally unsustainable. The phase-out comes three-and-a-half years ahead of its self-imposed deadline of year-end 2022. “Farmed eel is among the lowest-scoring farmed species rated by Seafood Watch, in part because eel farms rely on wild, endangered eels to stock their ponds and because freshwater eel farms can spread disease and pollution,” a spokesperson for Albertsons said. “High demand for eel has also created a global black market for poaching and smuggling of eel, which also violates the company’s responsible seafood policy.” The commitment also laid out plans to transition tuna, farmed salmon, species of whitefish used for imitation crab, and farmed shrimp to “responsible sources.” Last month, vegan brand Ocean Hugger Foods debuted eggplant-based eel at the National Restaurant Association Show in Chicago, IL, a one-for-one swap for its animal-based counterpart that could be a sustainable option for supermarkets, such as Albertsons, looking for new seafood options.
Photo Credit: Ocean Hugger Foods