Fish fraud: Seafood mislabeling persistent throughout supply chain

Not only does Canada continue to have a problem with fish mislabelling, but that problem persists throughout the supply chain, according to a first-ever study by University of Guelph researchers.

U of G researchers found 32 per cent of fish were mislabelled and the number of incorrectly identified samples became compounded as the samples moved through the food system.

“We’ve been doing seafood fraud studies for a decade,” said Prof. Robert Hanner, lead author and associate director for the Canadian Barcode of Life Network. “We know there are problems. But this is the first study to move beyond that and look at where the problems are happening throughout the food supply chain.”

The findings reveal that mislabelling happens before fish are imported into Canada, as well as throughout the supply chain, Hanner added.

“It seems it’s not isolated to foreign markets, but it’s also happening at home. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) has partnered with us to actively find solutions to this persistent problem,” said Hanner.

Published recently in the journal Food Research International, the study was conducted in collaboration with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA).

Hanner is the associate Director for the Canadian Barcode of Life Network, headquartered at the Biodiversity Institute of Ontario, University of Guelph.

U of G researchers examined 203 samples from 12 key targeted species collected from various importers, processing plants and retailers in Ontario. Of the samples, 141 (69.5 per cent) were from retailers, 51 (25 per cent) from importers and 11 (5.5 per cent) from processing plants.

Researchers identified the samples using DNA barcoding. Developed at U of G, DNA barcoding allows scientists to determine species of organisms using a short, standardized region of genetic material.

The findings revealed 32 per cent of the samples overall were mislabelled. The mislabelling rate was 17.6 per cent at the import stage, 27.3 per cent at processing plants and 38.1 per cent at retailers.

Fish-linked botulism in Nigeria

I’ve chronicled my fear of botulism many times before. I still can stuff, but I really pay attention to what I’m doing.

Dried fish and botulism seem to go together. Five bot cases in Germany and Spain were linked to dried fish in 2016.

There were 90 illnesses and nine deaths in 2017 from foodborne botulism in Ukraine. That’s a lot. Fish were a factor in many of these illnesses.

According to Outbreak News Daily, two unlucky Nigerians have died from botulism after consuming fish.

Three family members contracted suspected foodborne botulism, resulting in the deaths of the father and mother, according to the  the Nigerian Centres for Disease Control (NCDC). Fish appears to be the common food source.

The event descriptions of the two fatalities is provided by the World Health Organization (WHO):

The woman, a 47 year-old, presented to King’s Care Hospital, Abuja, on 7 January 2018, with vomiting, fever, sudden blurring of vision, generalized body weakness, dysphagia and odynophagia, and left ptosis. She was semi-conscious. She was initially diagnosed with ischaemic heart disease, with esophageal stricture and central retinal vein thrombosis. However, her neurological symptoms worsened rapidly, progressing to complete bilateral ptosis, paralysis of her respiratory muscles, and respiratory failure. She was referred approximately 24 hours after admission and died in transit.

Her 49 year-old husband presented to the same hospital with nausea, dizziness, vomiting, progressive dysarthria, odynophagia and partial ptosis. He was transferred to Zenith Medical and Kidney Centre, where his symptoms worsened. He suffered progressive respiratory failure, which required a tracheostomy and ventilation, and died on 15 January 2018.

Their 15-year-old daughter also developed symptoms and was hospitalized as of last week.

All three cases had eaten fish at home in the previous 24 hours. Two further children, who stayed in the same house, are currently in Lagos and are being monitored remotely. A third child is in Karu, but monitoring has been hampered by uncooperative relatives.

 

Madagascar: 10 deaths from sea turtle meat

Continuing with the French imperialism theme, after returning from fishing, villagers in the fokontany of Ambavarano, Mahavanona commune in Ansirtanana II shared sea turtle meat

Immediately after the meal, the first symptoms of food poisoning appeared. They did not stop vomiting and were later evacuated to the hospital.

And despite the intensive care that was provided to the sick, 10 people, including a one-year-old, baby, did not survive. According to the explanations, sea turtles were unfit for consumption.

Currently three other villagers are still receiving treatment at the hospital. Local officials conducted a public awareness campaign to prevent the incident from recurring.

 

Food fraud: Illegal fish via Facebook in NZ

Michael Daly of Stuff reports the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) says it has been alerted to more than 250 cases this year where people have tried to sell recreationally caught seafood on Facebook.

The issue attracted attention in Southland just before Christmas, with at least three posts on local group buy and sell sites offering seafood for sale. One was for fresh pāua said “trades or swaps 2kgs left”. Another was for 1kg of fresh pāua and 700g of frozen, while the third advertised nine “Fiordland lobster” tails “snap frozen straight off boat”.

An MPI spokesperson said the ministry was investigating several reported illegal fish sales on social media in the Southland area.

“For good reason, we cannot disclose the stage at which our inquiries are or what methods we use to acquire best evidence.”

The three posts advertising the pāua and crayfish angered members of the Spearfishing Southland group Facebook page. In a discussion on the site about the online advertising of seafood, one spearfishing group member said he had reported three incidents to MPI.

Another spearfishing group member, Andy Smith, who also runs an open community page with the same name, said after he had replied to the post for the crayfish tails after spotting it. 

“I put a message up myself saying, ‘Do you realise, it’s illegal what you’re doing?’ Fifteen minutes later, the post was gone,” he said.

He wasn’t aware of many cases where seafood was advertised in Facebook posts. “I see it happen sometimes, but it usually gets taken down pretty quick.” 

Japan theme park draws ire over 5,000 fish frozen into ice skate rink

I’m about to go play hockey and ref and coach for the next three hours – no complaints, it is what it is, we get the ice, we play.

My feet will hurt.

fukuoka-space-world-frozen-fish-ice-skating1But at least I don’t have to skate over fish.

Roland Shichijo of Tokyo Reporter writes a theme park in Kitakyushu City is facing a growing tide of criticism over its educational attraction featuring some 5,000 sea creatures frozen into an ice rink in what it boasts to be a world-first — and possibly Japan’s last.

Space World, described as a “theme park all about space” by the Japan National Tourism Organization, launched the “Freezing Port” event for its existing ice rink on November 12 as a limited winter and spring exhibition to educate visitors about marine life.

Park visitors can rent ice skates and glide over a wide variety of fish and shellfish frozen into the ice in different zones, according to the official web site, including a section featuring enlarged photos of bigger creatures such as whale sharks that some mistook to be real.

Many of the fish used for the attractions were unfit for retail sale and sourced from public fish markets, a Space World official said.

The theme park promised in October that visitors would have a “chance to enjoy skating under unreal conditions at an attraction both unseen and unheard of” in what is “not only a Japan-first, but undeniably a world-first.”

But an initially cautious reception quickly turned to dismay and anger after the theme park began posting preview photos of the ice rink on its Facebook page on October 26, accompanied by what many criticized as inappropriate captions.

Netizens were particularly vocal about a caption for a “Part.7” November 7 photo showing bodies of fish half-frozen into the ice rink that read “I’m d..d..drowning…It h…h..hurts…,” with one comment saying the park shouldn’t “make life into a toy.”

In another photo post dated November 8, visitors urged others to boycott the park while others condemned the attraction as an “insult to life” and urged the park to “go out of business.”

Space World continued to preview the attraction despite mounting criticism with a final “Part.11” photo on November 11, which drew over 100 comments expressing varying degrees of shock and shame –– including a claim that the attraction was gaining attention in China as “Japan’s vulgar theme park.”

An official from Space World’s public relations department confirmed to news site Netlabo that the park has “received lots of opinions on sites like Twitter, and some have even contacted us directly.”

The official denied allegations that the park used live fish for the ice rink.

Flesh-eating bacteria traced to tilapia bought from Washington market

Vernal Coleman of the Seattle Times reports that fish bought from a Bellevue supermarket is the likely source of a woman’s rare, life-threatening bacterial infection, according to health officials.

vibrio_vulnificus_1001390000_20131014185507_640_480The woman was diagnosed with Vibrio vulnificus on Nov. 10, said officials with Public Health — Seattle & King County. Often found in contaminated seawater, the infection can cause symptoms ranging from vomiting and diarrhea to flesh-eating skin wounds.

Officials suspect the woman was infected after cutting her finger while preparing the fish. According to officials, the woman, who is in her 50s, bought the tilapia fish from the Asian Food Center, at 14509 N.E. 20th St. She was later hospitalized and has since returned home.

The supermarket’s fish stock was disposed of, while the tanks and other equipment used to process fish at the market were decommissioned until they can be cleaned and disinfected, officials said. Department investigators will work with the Food and Drug Administration to investigate any food and product distributors found to be the source of contaminated food, officials said.

100 sick: French prisoners succumb to foodborne illness

Some 100 detainees from the Dijon prison were probably the victims of food poisoning. Analyzes are under way to determine the cause of the problem. The health treatment center at the Dijon prison had to face an influx of patients on the evening of Nov. 12, 2016.  All complained of stomach aches.

A dish of fish served with mayonnaise could be the cause of this poisoning which affected about 100 detainees out of approximately 260, indicates Thierry Cordelette, regional secretary of the trade union UFAP. Orders have been issued. Analyses will be carried out on the meals which have been recently served and which are prepared in the prisons’ kitchens by prisoners. The aim is to clarify whether this was a food-related problem or the cause is in the preparation process.

Cross contamination nightmare

From the Retail Hell Underground:

I work for a supermarket in the Fresh Fish department. I actually enjoy the job, most of the time that is, but everyone has horror stories. This was an amusing thing that happened shortly after I started the job.

Fish HeadSo we had a sale on Whole Salmon at £4 a kilogram (around $2.50 for a pound, give or take for Americans). It was an incredibly good sale, and whenever the sale is on the department is absolutely rammed with customers. I don’t really mind as the day goes quicker and our sales go through the roof. The vast majority of customers don’t want the Salmon whole as it is, and ask for it filleting, which we are happy to offer and do for them even if it takes a bit longer. I was just about to go for my lunch, but as we had a lot of orders for whole salmon that needed filleting I decided I would stay for longer and help my colleagues get through it. In comes a customer who looks absolutely bewildered, lets call him AB.

Me: Hello Sir, how may I help you today?

AB: The whole salmon, how much is it?

Me: It is on special offer at £4 per kilogramme.

AB: No, how much are THEY?!? I don’t work in kilogrammes. (Despite the fact that the retail sector has been using metric weights for over 30 years and the man didn’t look older than his 50s)

Me: Well it works out at under £2 per pound and they are each individually priced as you can see, they range from between £10 to £16 each depending on which one you want sir.

AB: Give me that one!

Me: Okay sir how would you like it? As it is whole or filleted?

AB: I would like it filleting… quickly please!

Me: I’ll try get through it as soon as I can sir, it shouldn’t take more than 5 minutes. Would you like me to pin bone it?

AB: I SAID FILLETING THANK YOU!!!

Me: No problem, I’ll have it ready for you as soon as possible.

The customer was being irate, but as it was a hot day I didn’t really think much of it as everyone seems to get more aggravated when the sun comes out. I quickly filleted the fish, not bothering to pin bone it as he stated he just wanted it filleting, bagged it up and left it in the back up chiller for when he came back to pick it up. He comes back, I gave it to him and he seemed happy enough. I didn’t think more of it and went for my lunch.

As I came back to the department after my lunch I barely had my apron on when he came rushing back to the department.

AB: There are bones in my fish!

ME: Well yes, you said you didn’t want it pin boning.

AB: CAN YOU REMOVE THEM! I’M NOT EATING MY FISH WITH BLOODY BONES.

ME: Sure thing, but in future when asked if you want it pin boning please reply yes.

AB: (muttering under his breath) …ohh, right.

So I pin bone the fish, but I notice it all crumbled up to the bottom of the bag and it is incredibly wet. My colleague is speaking to the absolutely bewildered customer, and he suddenly bursts out laughing. I’m not really listening to the conversation, but I finish pin-boning the fish and give it back to him and he looks rather embarrassed but thanks me really nicely, like a total mood change.

So I ask my colleague what they were talking about. Supposedly the customer had gone to the customer bathroom after he paid for his shopping, and dropped the salmon in the actual toilet by accident, and he ran the salmon fillets under the water in the sink to clean it as if that would magically get rid of all the bacteria.

This man had just dropped his salmon in the toilet, without telling me, and expected me to handle it again and use a clean surface to de-bone it. Cross contamination nightmare! Me and my colleague had a good chuckle as he got what he deserved.

And that is how I ended up spending the next hour disinfecting the hell out one of our work areas.

How these people manage in daily life is beyond me haha.

Primary Dubai fish market under inspection

There was this one time, a few years ago, I went to Dubai and Abu  Dhabi, to evaluate a graduate program and hang out at Dubai’s food safety conference.

bobby.bittman.sctv.eugeneFriend of the barfblog,  Bobby Khrisna (right, not exactly as shown), took me for a typical seafood dinner in Dubai, and it was great.

Looks like Bobby’s (left, exactly as shown) got some work.

The UAE Ministry of Climate Change and Environment accompanied by representatives from the Dubai Municipality recently conducted an inspection of Dubai’s fish market to assess the site’s compliance with the ministerial legislation that prohibits the sale of particular fish species during specific periods in the year.

H.E. Dr. Thani Al-Zeyoudi UAE Minister of Climate Change and Environment headed the inspection accompanied by H.E. Eng. Hussein Lootah Director General of the Dubai Municipality and H.E. Engineer Saif Mohammed Al-Shara Assistant Undersecretary for External Audit sector along with a team from both sides.

powell.krishna.feb.12H.E. Dr. Al-Zeyoudi emphasized on the importance of protecting and developing the fisheries across the UAE and treat it as a national treasure by committing to the ministerial legislations that have been established to protect and develop the natural stored fishes in the local water. The Ministry has issued multiple laws to prevent sale and harvest of particular species of fish such as the Ministerial Decrees 501 and 174 for the protection of rabbitfish (Safi) the emperor fish (Seiri) and Gerreidae fishes which are considered significant local fishes. The decrease of the stock of these species prompted the Ministry to issue such laws.

Vibrio cholerae and fish in The Netherlands

Vibrio cholerae non-O1 serogroup (VCNO) bacteraemia is a severe condition with a high case–fatality rate.

kiss.fish.kidWe report three cases diagnosed in the Netherlands, identified during a national microbiological congress, and provide a literature review on VCNO bacteraemia.

A search strategy including synonyms for ‘VCNO’ and ‘bacteraemia’ was applied to PubMed, Medline, Web of Science and Embase databases.

The three cases were reported in elderly male patients after fish consumption and/or surface water contact. The literature search yielded 82 case reports on 90 cases and six case series. Thirty case reports were from Asia (30/90; 33%), concerned males (67/90; 74%), and around one third (38/90; 42%) involved a history of alcohol abuse and/or liver cirrhosis The presenting symptom often was gastroenteritis (47/90; 52%) which occurred after seafood consumption in 32% of the cases (15/47).Aside from the most frequent symptom being fever, results of case series concurred with these findings. Published cases also included rare presentations e.g. endophthalmitis and neonatal meningitis. Based on the limited data available, cephalosporins seemed the most effective treatment. Although mainly reported in Asia, VCNO bacteraemia occurs worldwide. While some risk factors for VCNO were identified in this study, the source of infection remains often unclear. Clinical presentation may vary greatly and therefore a quick microbiological diagnosis is indispensable.

Vibrio cholerae non-O1 bacteraemia: description of three cases in The Netherlands and a literature review

Eurosurveillance, Volume 21, Issue 15, 14 April 2016

MF Engel, MA Muijsken, E Mooi-Kokenberg EJ Kuijper, DJ van Westerloo

http://www.eurosurveillance.org/ViewArticle.aspx?ArticleId=21442