Thu, 20 Jan 2022 Today's Paper

Canned fish in a soup!

11 June 2018 10:10 am - 0     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

A A A

Health officials state that fish packed in tins and carrying a parasitic infection poses no threat to health even if consumed

The Ministry of Health recently sent a communique to senior state health officials concerning a batch of canned fish deemed unsuitable for public consumption, ensuing the lab tests conducted by the Imported Food Inspection Unit of the Food Administration Unit of the Ministry of Health. According to the communique, a meeting was held by the Food Advisory Committee of Sri Lanka on May 10, where it was agreed upon to remain vigilant as to whether such canned fish deemed unsuitable for consumption was available in the market and if so, measures would be taken to remove them from shelves immediately. The communique also included an annex with the list of canned fish along with their brand names, the batch numbers, dates of manufacture and expiry specified. Moreover, the  learns through health officials, that the canned fish deemed unsuitable for public consumption doesn’t pose any health risk even if consumed. However, measures have been taken to reexport the consignment to the country of origin since it doesn’t meet the SLSI standards in addition to being identified as ‘repugnant’ due to the parasitic substance found in them, the   learns.   

  • Currently there are 60 consignments and 184 containers of canned fish
  • the importing of canned fish from the country of origin has temporarily been curtailed
  • every supermarket and grocery will be checked for unsuitable fish

No health risk posed through dead parasites 
Commenting on the special communique sent to senior health officials at regional level, Secretary to the Food Advisory Committee and Director of the Food Control Administration Unit attached to the Ministry of Health, Dr. Sapumal Dhanapala explained that there are certain parameters the Sri Lanka Standards Institute (SLSI) considers to see whether a product meets the standard. He said that there was a sudden rise in March with regard to the number of imported canned fish that doesn’t meet the SLSI standard mark.   

“We had a meeting in April to discuss this matter and identified that the unusual rise in the poor quality of canned fish-which didn’t meet the SLSI standard- was due to a dead parasite found in the fish. We had the meeting with the SLSI and the Food Control Administration Unit to see how we could streamline this issue. Based on this we started double checking the parameters even in our food labs from April on wards. Currently we have sixty consignments and 184 containers, which don’t meet the standards. All these will be reexported to the country of origin for not meeting the SLSI standard.   

“When we raised this issue at the Food Advisory Committee, because we know the batch number, manufacturer, the brand and related information, the Committee wanted us to circulate this information to the food inspectors at the district level and officials at the MOH level, to identify and ascertain whether any of the batches of canned fish could have leaked into the market through informal channels. We can only check on these imported canned fish at the border level and reexport on the border itself; these are the ones that genuinely come through the border system. But we aren’t hundred percent sure whether there could be any canned fish smuggled into the market through informal channels” Dr. Dhanapala added.   

Stating that this is why a communique was sent, asking food inspectors to be vigilant of the batches, he further explained that it isn’t particularly the brands that they are looking out for, but the particular batch number. “We have given the batch numbers in all the consignments and where the batch number isn’t available, we have listed out the date of manufacture and date of expiry since some companies don’t mention the batch number on their products. From what I have heard through the SLSI, the importing of canned fish from the country of origin has temporarily been curtailed.   

There is no issue with food safety because if it was such an issue, then we will have to issue a red alert on the media and make sure that the public is made aware of it. But in the case of the dead parasite found in these canned fish, even if you eat it there is no health risk. However, since it’s repulsive to see dead parasites in food, we decided to reexport them” he said.   

Consignment in question not released

When inquired about the concerns of the consumer with regard to these canned fish, Consumer Affairs Authority Chairman Hasitha Tillekeratne said that there is no reason for the public to harbour fears since the consignment in question hasn’t been released yet. He further noted that this issue doesn’t come within the purview of the CAA. “The consignment hasn’t been cleared yet. This is an issue to be dealt with under the Food Act, which is controlled by the Public Health Inspectors. These Public Health Inspectors are attached to the Customs Department at the points of clearance. They have stopped the consignment, which hasn’t been released to the country,” he said. 

 

 

Measures taken to implement communique 

Speaking to ,  Chief Medical Officer of Health at the Colombo Municipal Council Dr. Ruwan Wijayamuni informed that the CMC has taken measures to implement the communique issued by the Health Ministry. “I have asked my food inspectors, medical officers of health and the Public Health Inspectors, who are the authorized officers under the Food Act, to implement the communique issued by the Health Ministry to the latter. However, we couldn’t find any unsuitable canned fish in the market. The manufacturers and importers have been informed about these canned fish and they have already cleared them from their shelves. Therefore, we haven’t found anything so far, but we are nevertheless on the lookout,” said Dr. Wijayamuni.    

When inquired about the parasites found in the canned fish, Dr. Wijayamuni said that according to reports, worms have been found in the fish. 

Stating that he has still not seen the parasites nor received a sample for testing, Dr. Wijayamuni added that the samples may have been taken and directly sent to the Government Analyst for testing. “If we find any cans with the same batch number, we will confiscate and send them to our Analyst’s laboratory for testing. Then we can find out what type of worm has contaminated the fish; whether it is the worm usually found in the gut of the fish or if worms were produced because of spoiled fish. Since we haven’t got any samples, we cannot exactly say where the problem lies. We are waiting to receive a sample from those batches for testing. In any food product, the batch number should be there and we look for these batch numbers and the particular brands in this case. We are checking every supermarket and grocery in the locality to ensure that the canned fish unsuitable for consumption have been removed from their stores” Dr. Wijayamuni added.   

As a consumer tip, it’s better to bear in mind to look for the label displaying the ingredients

Pros and cons of consuming canned fish 

Speaking to the , Consultant Physician and Former Head of the Toxicology and National Poisons Information Centre at the National Hospital of Colombo, Dr. Waruna Gunathilake explained the positive and negative effects of consuming canned fish. According to Dr. Gunathilake one of the side effects of consuming canned fish is the high salt content in the food and its ingredients, which may also include certain additives such as various types of sauces. “In the long run, the consumption of a high content of salt could result in causing high blood pressure in an individual. The fish cans may also be lined with BPA (Bisphenol A). The BPA chemical ingredient isn’t good for the health because it has long term carcinogenic effects. Canned fish could also contain a high content of mercury, especially in large fish such as tuna. Since the fish is large, there is a high risk of the accumulation of heavy metals including mercury / methyl mercury. These are the untoward health effects of consuming canned fish in the long term” Dr. Gunathilake said.   

“As a consumer tip, it’s better to bear in mind to look for the label displaying the ingredients, since there could be certain industrial oils contained in canned fish. Secondly, it would be better to opt for smaller fish than larger fish due to the heavy metal concerns. On a positive note, canned fish is a good source of protein and especially Omega 3 and calcium. Canning is one good method of preservation since it helps increase the shelf life of foods. Canned fish can be considered as an emergency high protein diet, but it’s important to sensibly select them while ensuring the quality of the fish product,” Dr. Gunathilake concluded.   

See Kapruka's top selling online shopping categories such as Toys, Grocery, Flowers, Birthday Cakes, Fruits, Chocolates, Clothing and Electronics. Also see Kapruka's unique online services such as Money Remittence,News, Courier/Delivery, Food Delivery and over 700 top brands. Also get products from Amazon & Ebay via Kapruka Gloabal Shop into Sri Lanka.

  Comments - 0

See Kapruka's top selling online shopping categories such as Toys, Grocery, Flowers, Birthday Cakes, Fruits, Chocolates, Clothing and Electronics. Also see Kapruka's unique online services such as Money Remittence,News, Courier/Delivery, Food Delivery and over 700 top brands. Also get products from Amazon & Ebay via Kapruka Gloabal Shop into Sri Lanka.

Add comment

Comments will be edited (grammar, spelling and slang) and authorized at the discretion of Daily Mirror online. The website also has the right not to publish selected comments.

Reply To:

Name - Reply Comment




See Kapruka's top selling online shopping categories such as Toys, Grocery, Flowers, Birthday Cakes, Fruits, Chocolates, Clothing and Electronics. Also see Kapruka's unique online services such as Money Remittence,News, Courier/Delivery, Food Delivery and over 700 top brands. Also get products from Amazon & Ebay via Kapruka Gloabal Shop into Sri Lanka.