Monday, 3 April 2017

What's that coming over the hill, is it a Monster, is it a Monster? NO, it's Vietnamese Panga and Norwegian Salmon Fish :P

Every time I jump in the car after picking my boy up from his nursery, he wants me to play music I randomly buy for a pound from Poundland. Most of the times I just drop in into a local Poundland shop, look for something that might resemble my musical taste and buy a few CDs. With this practice I have been super lucky and found Franz Ferdinand's "The Fallen" or some really good stuff by the Kings of Leon. However, I've also been unlucky and got some very messed up choices... sorry Manic Street Preachers :P

The last time I went music-shopping at Poundland I got the album "Not accepted anywhere" by the Welsh band "The Automatic". And boy oh boy my son loves that "Monster" track. I play it every single day like 3/4 times for the kid's amusement. Hey, Kasabians of this world, bear in mind my kid is 3 and a half! 

Also recently, he has been into eating fish because of his nursery's menu; and I, being a vegetarian, cannot really advise him anything fishy for his meals. That's why I resorted to my wife who has a BSc in Marine Biology, and asked her for some tips on the matter. She is now an accountant and immediately jerked that responsibility to her mum, a really nice 'amateur chef' who immediately told us - "BUY ANYTHING BUT JUST DON'T GIVE HIM ANY NORWEGIAN SALMON OR VIETNAMESE PANGA FISH. THE MOST POISONOUS FISHES ON EARTH!"

Well, alarm bells rang in my head. I had to look into it... that's Toxicology right there asking to be investigated. And so I started reading, listening to stuff, inquiring until I found this incredible documentary entitled "Poisonous Fish: The Big Health Lie" starring a world renown environmentalist fighting alongside the Greenwarriors of Norway that goes by the name Kurt Oddekalv (for copyright reasons I can't embed the video here). But I am serving you the saucy facts right below, so steaming hot that you will learn that even schools are murdering their pupils with them poisonous food choices.


(Image from Raincoast Conservation Foundation)

Fact 1 - Over 2 million specimen cohabit restricted salmon farm spaces where disease, like the parasite sea lice that lodges onto the fish flesh and potentially kill them, spread and force the farming companies to spray their farming waters with neurotoxic pesticides. Sea-lice can become resistant to treatment which reinforces the use of more potent pesticides by desperate farmers. [1]

(Image from undercurrentnews)

Fact 2 - Due to low prices derived from modern farming conditions and due to market demands (Panga has become famous because it is odourless and tasteless, so chefs can add any flavour to it), the Vietnamese Panga Fish is now of the most consumed fishes in schools these days. 99% of the world production of Panga fish comes from Vietnam where poliphosphates are constantly used as practice. Even though poliphosphates do not represent an immediate health threat (they're just additives that facilitate freezing and artificially increase the fishes weight because they absorb water), they have been increasingly used these days in many other fish cultures. Gastric over exposure to this product might become a concern. For example, they are very common in codfish preservation (see post here). [2]

(Image from Slow Food)

Fact 3 - Most Panga fish are sick because of the river pollution where they are farmed in. These rivers have highly concentrated values of bacteria and algae that cause eutrophisation that is responsible for the low oxygen levels in these waters. In addition, farmers battle diseases by pumping enormous quantities of drugs to fight issues like bleeding in the fin area and liver disease. Antibiotics like sulphadiazine (used to treat meningitis) are regularly administered to the fish ponds generating ever more drug-resistant bacteria which in fact forces the farmers to administer even higher concentrations of antibiotics. And these antibiotics produce residues that are excreted or lost to nature and spread out, as well as accumulating in the tissues of the fishes. [3]

(Image from The Project Avalon Forum)

Fact 4 - In Norway, some of the pesticides used to combat diseases present in these salmon farms are the same that were used during the 1st world war to gas people, as believed by Kurt Oddekalv. [4] [5]

(Image from The Project Avalon Forum)

Fact 5 -  If it was only Panga and Salmon, but no, it's with the environmental conditions and not the subject animal farmed. Cods have been suffering genetic mutations that occasionally result in a mouth defect where they cannot close their mouths. A problem that in nature, according to Kurt Oddekalv, would take eight generations to clear out from their genotype.

(Image from The Hearty Soul)

Fact 6 - A wild salmon contains roughly 5-7% fat, but a farmed one will contain approximately in between 14.5% and 24% fat. Bearing in mind that the toxicants deposit predominantly in the fat tissue, these farmed salmons are large vessels of poisonous fat that researchers (e.g. Jérôme Ruzzin from the University of Bergen in Norway) have already related to increased obesity and diabetes, in studies conducted on rodents. The different pollutants found altogether in farmed salmon samples are among several others: endosulfan sufate (a highly toxic endocrine disruptor), and Dieldrin (a highly toxic pesticide likely to be carcinogenic and to act also as an endocrine disruptor). [6] [7]

(Image from esri)

Fact 7 - Surprisingly its not the pesticides sprayed onto the farming waters that represent the biggest threat, but those already incorporated in the dry pellets that are fed to these fishes. These pellets are concentrated protein and fat tablets that are made by companies specialised in fish feeds. In Europe, these companies buy mostly fatty fish coming from the Baltic sea, one of the most polluted seas in the entire world for it is surrounded by nine industrialised countries that dispose of their toxic residues into the Baltic waters. [8]

(Image from ChemService Inc.)

Fact 8 - Protein powders contain an antioxidant called Ethoxyquin (also known as Santoquin, Santoflex or Quinol) created in the labs by Monsanto (a biotechnology company).  This chemical was registered in 1959 as a pesticide to treat rubber, fruits and vegetables but can be found nowadays well above the 50 ug per kilogram concentration permitted by law in fishes analysed by the Swiss anti-fraud labs. Because of discrepancies in communications between parts (pellet-makers and fish-farmers) Ethoxyquin is being used well above what is supposed to. More surprisingly, this product has no specific toxicity studies performed (I could only find a review article) and the one Norwegian researcher who dedicated her PhD studies to the study of this pesticide lost her job and was forbidden to publish her findings. [9] [10]

(Image from The Budapest Beacon)

Fact 9 - Corruption to the highest level with terrifying impact on public health - It's a fearful former postgraduate that explains to us that there are no studies performed by the creators of Ethoxyquin on its safety. She discovered that the pesticide has the capacity to cross the blood-brain barrier, a boarder that should be impermeable to all toxic substances humans are exposed to. It's a startled former researcher that 'admits 'pressure from above organised in the shape of an old-time Italian Mafia. On the possible top of the pyramid we can find that research funding in Norway was cut to projects studying the toxicity of Ethoxyquin. And this entanglement of dark connections goes to the person responsible for the whole food security system in Norway; the same one holding stock participations and previous work relations with the world leader in dry-fish meal pellets. The moment you watch the whole video, find it here if it still is available on the web, you will find conflict of interest all over that network.

(Image from

Fact 10 - With an ever growing demand for food from the Western contemporary 'obese and diabetic' societies, no fish is going to waste. The fish skin, let's take cod as an example, is used for cosmetics, the spines and heads are crushed into a pulp that is used in ready-meals and pet food. All that wouldn't be a problem if the list of ingredients was compliant with an honest description of the real product used. That is because a 'fish fillet' is one thing and a pulp comprised of fat, bone and sparse fish meat is yet a completely different thing.

I told my wife the other day that outside Portugal there's loads of corruption, to a degree that fortunately we don't even see in my home country. However, the impact in countries with the economy of Portugal is much bigger because for a country as rich as Norway one can hardly see the impact of such level of corruption if not in the long term. However, the impact on the health of those consuming fish coming from the Norwegian fjords, or even from Vietnam, where regulations are overlooked either due to an entangled mob-like networking or simply because of a relaxed supervision from authorities, will always constitute a crime against humanity... regardless of what they might say.

[1] Jansen, P. A., Grontvedt, R. N., Tarpai, A., Kelgesen, K. O., Horsberg, T. E. (2016). "Surveillance of the sensitivity towards antiparasitic bath-treatments in the salmon louse (Lepeophtheirus salmonis)". PLoS One, 11(2): e0149006. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0149006.

[2] Sheard, P. R., Nute, G. R., Richardson, R. I., Perry. A., Taylor, A. A. (1999). "Injection of water and polyphosphate into pork to improve juiciness and tenderness after cooking". Meat Science, 51(4), pp. 371-379.

[3] Huysveld, S., Schaubroeck, T., Meester, S. D., Sorgeloos, P., Langenhove, H. V., Van linden, V., Dewulf, J. (2013). "Resource use analysys of Pangasius aquaculture in the Mekong Delta in Vietnam using exergetic life cycle assessment". Journal of Cleaner Production, 51, pp. 225-233.

[4] Smith, A. G and Gangolli, S. D. (2002). "Organochlorine chemicals in seafood: occurence and health concerns". Food and Chemical Toxicology40(6), pp. 767-779.  

[5] Shaw, S. D., Brenner, D., , Berger, M. L., Carpenter, D. O., Hong, C. S., Kannan, K. (2006). "PCBs, PCDD/Fs, and organochlorine pesticides in farmed Atlantic salmon from Maine, eastern Canada, and Norway, and wild salmon from Alaska". Environmental Science & Technology, 40(17), pp. 5347-5354.

[6] Ruzzin, J., Rasmus, P., Meugnier, E., Madsen, L., Lock, E-J., et al (2010). "Persistent organic pollutant exposure leads to insulin resistance syndrome". Environmental Health Perspectives Research Triangle Park, pp. 465-471.

[7] Aksnes, A., Gjerde, B., Roald, S. A. (1986). "Biological, chemical and organoleptic changes during maturation of farmed Atlantic salmon, Salmo salar". Aquaculture, 53(1), pp. 7-20.

[8] Rheinheimer, G. (1998). "Pollution in the Baltic Sea". Naturwissenschaften, 85(7), pp. 318-329.

[9] Blaszczyk, A., Augustyniak, A., Skolimowski, J. (2013). "Ethoxyquin: An antioxidant used in animal feed". International Journal of Food Science, Volume 2013, pp. 1-12.

[10] Ethoxyquin:EFSA safety assessment inconclusive, European Food Safety Authority, [], last visited on the 5th of April 2017, last update unknown.

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