Entries in Seafood (4)


Seafood from Asia Raised on Pig Waste, Says News Report

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Seafood raised on pig feces and crawling with flies is being sold to U.S. consumers, according to a new report.

The November issue of Bloomberg Markets magazine, in a piece on food poisoning and safety, says that it is common practice in some parts of Asia to feed fish pig waste.  It describes, for example, the sanitary conditions at a fish factory on the southern coast of Vietnam.

"Flies," it says, "crawl over baskets of processed shrimp."

The shrimp at some plants are packed in ice, which is good.  What's bad is that it's ice made from water often found to be contaminated with bacteria and unfit for human consumption, say Bloomberg's reporters in Hanoi.

Vietnam ships 100 million pounds of shrimp a year to the U.S., about 8 percent of the shrimp sold in America.

Outside Hong Kong, at a tilapia farm, fish are fed a diet that includes pig and geese feces.  That practice, Michael Doyle tells Bloomberg Markets, is unsafe for U.S. consumers, because the manure may be contaminated with salmonella. 

Doyle is director of the Center for Food Safety at the University of Georgia.  Fish farmers, he says, use fecal matter as a cheaper alternative to commercial fish food.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration inspects food shipments to the United States, including seafood shipments, but the agency's resources are limited, says Bloomberg's report.  It is able to inspect fewer than 3 percent of shipments.  Of that, reports Bloomberg, much is sent back.  The FDA has rejected 1,380 shipments of Vietnamese seafood since 2007, finding filth and salmonella.

Kevin Fitzsimmons, a professor and research scientist at the University of Arizona College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, tells ABC News he has read the Bloomberg article and finds it "a little misleading.  I do a lot of work in Asia and am headed there now for a conference on tilapia.  They [Bloomberg] are cherry-picking a few items to make things sound as bad as possible."  Fitzsimmons is an officer of the American Tilapia Association and an expert on seafood production in Asia.

For starters, he says, seafood shipments from Asia to the U.S. number in the "hundreds of thousands, if not millions," so the fact that 1,380 from Vietnam have been returned since 2007 is relatively insignificant.

Second, he says, the practice in Asia of putting hog feces into fish ponds dates back "thousands of years," and is not as repellent as it at first might sound.  Why?  "Because the fish are not eating the feces.  The feces are added to the water to produce an algae bloom," he says, which in turn produces a form of plankton that the fish then eat.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Cooked Squid Inseminates Woman’s Mouth

iStockPhoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Here’s one not for the squeamish, from South Korea: A semi-cooked squid inseminated a woman’s mouth, according to a paper published in the Journal of Parasitology. After experiencing “severe pain in her oral cavity” when she bit into her seafood, the woman spit out her meal but continued to feel a lingering “pricking” sensation.

Doctors found that the 63-year-old woman had “small, white spindle-shaped bug-like organisms” lodged in the mucous membrane of her tongue, cheek and gums.

Despite having been boiled, the dead squid’s live spermatophores, or sperm sacks, were alive and penetrated the woman’s mouth.  The sacks, which contain ejaculatory devices, forcefully release sperm and a “cement” that attaches the sperm to a wall.

Not to worry, calamari lovers.  Most Western-world squid preparation removes the squid’s internal organs, leaving only its muscle for eaters to enjoy, according to Danna Staaf, who writes the blog Squid a Day, published on Science 2.0.

Seafood, anyone?

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Study Declares Gulf Seafood Safe to Eat

U.S. Coast Guard via Getty Images(TUSCALOOSA, Ala.) -- A bit more than a year after the worst oil spill in U.S. history occurred in the Gulf of Mexico, a University of Alabama review of multiple studies affirms that Gulf seafood contamination with polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, or PAHs, is "well below levels that would be of concern for human health." 

However, given that PAH levels can remain elevated in fish and shellfish for weeks to years after contamination, the authors recommend continued testing.  Additionally, they point out that testing for metals such as mercury, cadmium and lead should also continue, particularly since some are known to accumulate in seafood.

The report is published in Environmental Health Perspectives.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio 


High Radiation in Japanese Fish Raises Concerns

Stockbyte/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Are you green around the gills with Monday's news that Japan's Tokyo Electric Power Co. is dumping tons of radioactive water into the Pacific Ocean? Experts say there's no need for worry -- at least for now.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration said it will require seafood imported from Japan to be checked for radiation before it enters the food supply. But even with the new screenings, no one in the U.S. government is saying "stop eating tuna."

"Other food products from this area, including seafood, although not subject to the Import Alert, will be diverted for testing by FDA before they can enter the food supply," the FDA said in a prepared statement. "FDA will also be monitoring and testing food products, including seafood, from other areas of Japan as appropriate."

More specifically, an FDA spokesperson told ABC News that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement "is screening everything from Japan." However, screening does not entail testing all the seafood. In fact, the FDA inspects less than two percent of seafood, according to Winona Hauter, executive director of Food & Water Watch.

Since screening, the FDA confirmed finding three food products from Japan that contained radioactive isotopes, although they were "all too low to cause adverse events." So far, the FDA said that every piece of seafood that has been imported to the United States is safe.

Offshore from the Fukushima plant, the seawater is now testing at levels off the charts -- 7.5 million times more radioactive than the legal limit.

"I can't go out to fish because of the radiation," one Japanese fisherman told ABC News. "I cannot do anything."

But another fisherman said it was a "bad rumor" that the fish was unsafe to eat. "The fish are totally fine, I believe," he said.

Because of the elevated levels, the Japanese government also announced on Tuesday that it will, for the first time, enact radiation safety standards for fish.

"We're deeply sorry for discharging the radiated water," said Japan's chief cabinet secretary Yukio Edano on Monday, "but it was necessary to prevent spreading higher radiated water into the ocean."

Even though radiation levels become diluted in large bodies of water, officials tested a sample of sand lance fish, often used for bait, and found that the species contained nearly double the levels of iodine 131 and cesium 137. The new regulation caps fish radiation levels at the same amount as vegetables -- up to 2,000 bequerels of iodine 131 per kilogram.

Edano said that government will strictly monitor the seafood and move forward after officials understand the full impact of the dumping.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio 

ABC News Radio