Whole Story

The Official Whole Foods Market® Blog

What’s So Great about Our Tilapia? We’ll Tell You!

By Elizabeth Leader Smith, August 12, 2012  |  Meet the Blogger  |  More Posts by Elizabeth Leader Smith

Is there that one thing you reach for when you need a quick-fix dinner? Of course there’s the basic boneless, skinless chicken breast and the ever-present pasta. And while these are fine choices, have you ever tried tilapia?  It’s mild, delicate flavor and cooking versatility makes it a family favorite in my house. Take a look at my previous post for some tasty tilapia recipes.

Tilapia tastes great and is simple to prepare but there is also something especially great about tilapia from Whole Foods Market®.

Navigating the Seafood Counter
Whole Foods Market sources tilapia only from farms that meet our unique, industry-leading Quality Standards for Aquaculture. This means we know exactly where our farmed seafood comes from and who is doing the farming. We know where it swam and we know what it was fed...and more importantly, what it wasn't fed.

Here are more details about what makes our tilapia great:

  • They are raised without the use of antibiotics and added growth hormones.

  • Their feed contains fish-processing trimmings instead of wild fish caught just for food; and poultry and mammalian by-products are prohibited.

  • Genetically modified and cloned seafood are not allowed and the industry-standard use of hormones for sex reversal is prohibited.

  • Our producers are required to minimize impacts of fish farming on the environment by protecting sensitive habitats, monitoring water quality to prevent pollution and sourcing feed ingredients responsibly.

  • Added preservatives such as sodium bisulfate, sodium tri-polyphosphate (STP) and sodium metabisulfite are not allowed

No other national grocery store or fish market has standards like these. We’re not fishing for compliments, just doing the right thing to prevent water pollution and other negative impacts on the environment — as well as the overuse of chemicals and antibiotics. So look for the Responsibly Farmed label which indicates the fish has been farmed according to our strict Aquaculture Standards and has been audited by a third party to ensure that the standards are being met.

Looking for organic seafood in our stores? Actually, there are no organic standards for seafood in the US. That’s why you won’t find an organic label on any of our fish, but you will see the Responsibly Farmed label mentioned above. That means the fish was raised and processed to our strict aquaculture standards

The Same School of Thought
Of course, we’re not alone in our efforts to support responsibly farmed tilapia. Our trusted farmer partners are committed too. Check out this video on YouTube about ArtisanFish, one of our likeminded partners. Their farm, located deep in the heart of northern Peru, uses the best practices to farm their signature Peruvian Blue tilapia for a thicker, more flavorful fillet.

What standards are important to you when you’re shopping for seafood?



Category: Seafood




Elizabeth Patch-Boyle says ...
I LOVE Whole Foods, especially the fish, veggies and fruit. I am a senior citizen and only shop at WHOLE FOOD stores. Thank you.
08/13/2012 9:11:51 AM CDT
linda says ...
I'm glad it's not from Southeast Asia since I've read scary things about how their fish is raised, but how much does WF tilapia cost per pound? Thanks. I'm in Austin, BTW.
08/13/2012 11:54:22 AM CDT
nikki.newman says ...
@LINDA - You'll need to check with the specific store you typically shop at in Austin. You can find a list of our stores at http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/stores/list. We'd love to hear what your favorite tilapia recipe is for everyone to enjoy!
08/13/2012 12:11:14 PM CDT
Marisol says ...
I would like to find a healthy way to eat and whole foods its one of the best obtions to eat well and healthy.
08/16/2012 1:01:12 PM CDT
miike says ...
What species of fish trimmings are the Tilapia fed? What else is in their feed? thanks
10/04/2012 3:48:07 PM CDT
laurie says ...
i'm really excited to find this today, I love tilapia but have stopped buying it since all the farmed ones i've tried since it became popular taste like ammonia from being kept in too crowded conditions. Also there's the scary way foreign tilipia is raised. Now i am going to try Whole Foods tilapia now that I see how well you check on the safety before you buy.
10/09/2012 5:47:17 PM CDT
Nikki - Community Moderator says ...
@MIKE - Since we get tilapia from different vendors at each store location and region, I would encourage you to reach out to your local store to find an answer. The seafood department should be able find this information out for you. You can find their contact info at http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/blog/whole-story.
10/10/2012 12:58:59 PM CDT
j says ...
I'm concerned about the feed base for your tilapia. I've read that most famed tilapia is fed a corn based diet which results in a high omega 6 / omega 3 ratio (11:1) similar to red meat whereas a more natural diet or flax seed diet results in something closer to 1:1 like you see in salmon. Can you tell me what the feed is for talipia and whether you look at omega 6 : omega 3 ratios? This is a lot like the grass fed / grain fed debate with red meat. Too much of our diet is corn based these days which is bad for the animal and bad for us. Thanks, I'm a big fan of whole foods (shop every week) and want to know if you guys got this one right too.
10/14/2012 2:21:40 PM CDT
Nikki - Community Moderator says ...
@JAY - Thanks for your question. The ingredients used in feed will vary from farm to farm and species to species depending upon the nutritional requirements of the species and the availability of ingredients. Feed includes sources of protein, fat, and carbohydrates. As far as plant-based ingredients are concerned, many farmers use soybean meal. Grains can include wheat flour or rice bran. Some producers of farmed salmon use corn, for example, while others don’t. I would encourage you to reach out to your local store to see which vendor they use to get their tilapia from. They should be able to look in this further for you with their vendor.
10/17/2012 4:43:06 PM CDT
anila says ...
I read that Whole Foods (some) use prison inmates to work at Tilapia farms. Is this true?
11/16/2012 10:15:19 PM CST
Amanda says ...
I greatly appreciate the efforts Whole Foods goes to in regards to providing customers with high quality, resonsibly fished seafood. My questions has to do with PCBs. This has been a big concern in Farmed Salmon. I have read about your farmed salmon and other farmed fish on your website but there's no mention of PCBs. I would appreciate it if someone could provide me with some feedback on the level PCBs in Whole Foods Farmed Fish. Thank you!
11/20/2012 11:19:57 AM CST
Nikki - Community Moderator says ...
@AMANDA - Thanks for your question. We go to great lengths to offer the freshest, highest quality seafood gathered from the best sources locally and around the world. In July 2008, we announced our enhanced farmed seafood standards after embarking on an intensive two-year process that included conducting extensive research on fish farming, review of all the best available science, consultation with the top environmental organizations, and visits to farms worldwide. Our enhanced aquaculture standards prohibit antibiotics, added hormones, and mammalian byproducts in feed, and set limits on environmental contaminants like dioxins and PCBs. They also require producers to minimize the impact of the environment around them by protecting sensitive areas like mangrove forests and wetlands. For comprehensive information on our aquaculture standards, please visit: http://wholefoodsmarket.com/mission-values/seafood-sustainability/aquaculture.
11/23/2012 2:24:12 PM CST
Kevin Quill says ...
May I ask where your farmed Salmon comes from? Specigically which farms are used by Whole foods?
11/25/2012 11:59:04 AM CST
Nikki - Community Moderator says ...
@KEVIN - Since our vendors vary between regions, this will be different for each store location. If you check with your local store, they should be able to tell you where they source their farmed salmon.
11/26/2012 12:26:04 PM CST
Diana says ...
I am glad to hear that Whole Foods is selective in their choice of fish farms. However, I understand that fish grown in farms do not have the health benefits that wild caught has. Fish acquire omega-3s by eating aquatic plants and other fish whereas farmed fish, by contrast, largely eat feed made from corn and soy which results in higher bad fats and lower good fats. I hope that Whole Foods will move toward providing more wild caught fish.
11/29/2012 1:28:58 PM CST
Patricia Missman says ...
I asked about your flash frozen tilapia at the Montrose store. It says that it is from Vietnam. How do we know that they are following the rules that we expect from them, when we are not checking? They do not have the same industry regulations that we do. Do you check every couple of weeks? I am having to write this question again, because my first comment didn't get added to the blog. Why?
12/02/2012 10:47:32 AM CST
Nikki - Community Moderator says ...
@PATRICIA - Thanks for your comment and our apologies that your first comment did not make it through to post. I'm happy to help find an answer for you though! Since our products vary between regions, I have passed along your question and email address to the Southwest regional office so they can look in to this further. They will be able to find out the exact vendor. They should be contacting you soon. Thanks!
12/03/2012 3:35:35 PM CST
Michael Kelley says ...
I have visited several whole foods websites. You make it extremely difficult to find the nutritional values of Tilapia.
02/11/2013 2:28:14 PM CST
Nikki - Community Moderator says ...
@MICHAEL - The main area where we provide nutritional info is on our recipes. If you click on a recipe, you will see the nutritional info listed at the bottom of the recipe. Here are the tilapia recipes: http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/recipe/search/tilapia.
02/11/2013 4:50:43 PM CST
Chase says ...
I am just curious why Whole Foods doesn't buy US raised Tilapia, which is considered "The Best Choice" by the Monterey Bay Aquarium's Seafood Watch?
03/10/2013 6:00:22 PM CDT
Cindy says ...
I love the seafood I can get at Whole Foods. When I get home and unwrap the package there is no strong fish smell no matter what I purchase and the fish mongers are all so polite and helpful. Thanks for being in our neighborhood and only selling the freshest seafood.
03/12/2013 9:16:12 PM CDT
Nai says ...
Is it safe and/or legal in the US to use carbon monoxide as a preservative in frozen fish?
03/29/2013 2:11:31 PM CDT
Nikki - Community Moderator says ...
@NAI - Thank you for contacting us with your concern about carbon monoxide colorant fixed meat. We have contacted our suppliers and they have assured us that they do not engage in this practice.
04/02/2013 12:27:14 PM CDT
Robert Bailie says ...
We use only organic fish feed that is FDA certified. No hormones, no antibiotics, no hybrids, no sex reversal hormones, no animal parts. Just good high quality fish like God designed them. Our tanks are stocked to half the industry standard to minimize stress and prevent disease. make sure you get american grown tilapia and avoid at all cost frozen chinese tilapia
04/12/2013 3:24:26 PM CDT
Aretha Burns says ...
I would like to know if your Tilapia comes from any country other than the US? If so WHY?
07/09/2013 8:51:10 PM CDT