The Winding Glass is written by John Sackton, Editor and Publisher of Seafood.com News to discuss stories, share comments and opinions and give feedback. It’s a tool for community discussion in our industry-- from every angle. So whether you are crab fishing in Alaska, importing from Vietnam, promoting American Shrimp or cursing those who do, whether you are a fisherman, processor, distributor, foodservice buyer or retailer, scientist or manager, or have any connection to our industry, join in.
Most people know that raw salmon, eaten for sushi, should be frozen before serving. Freezing destroys a tapeworm parasite found in some types of salmon. Now the CDC has published a paper saying that the incidence of tapeworm is rising in urban populations, due to the growing popularity of sushi and sashimi. Here is the article we wrote about this today in Seafood.com News.
Popularity of sushi has led to increase in tape worm infections in urban populations
SEAFOOD.COM NEWS by John Sackton - June 17, 2009 - Tapeworm parasites transmitted from eating raw salmon used to be endemic in some rural areas of Japan. However, researchers now say that the global popularity of sushi has led to an increase in tapeworm infestation in urban populations who eat more raw fish.
In some species of pacific salmon, which are used by tapeworms as part of their life cycle, the eggs can be killed by freezing.
The paper, published by the CDC in the current edition of its Emerging Infectious Diseases Journal, says 'the incidence of human infection with the broad tapeworm Diphyllobothrium nihonkaiense has been increasing in urban areas of Japan and in European countries.
A recent surge of clinical cases highlights a change in the epidemiological trend of this tapeworm disease from one of rural populations to a disease of urban populations worldwide who eat seafood as part of a healthy diet.
The graph shows the increasing incidence of tape worm associated with eating raw salmon that has been recorded among some populations.
"Annual incidence rates of the clinical cases show an apparent surge in recent years (Figure 2). In a broad assumption that the case numbers at MZ represent all cases of this tapeworm infection in Kyoto, the average incidence in the past 20 years was 0.32 cases per 100,000 population per year, and that in 2008 was 1.0 case per 100,000 population. "
"Most patients regularly ate sushi and sashimi. Approximately half could recall that they ate raw or undercooked salmon in the past 6 months. Analyses of 149 cases at MZ and BH showed that the disease occurred during all seasons but that prevalence peaked in early summer (Figure 3). Every age group was affected, from 3 to 77 years. Most patients were 20Ð59 years of age, which probably reflects more frequent consumption of sushi and sashimi by persons in this age group than in other age groups. Twice as many men than women were affected."
(this editorial ran in our Seafood.com News today)
The headline of one of the New York Times stories today is “Industry Money Fans Debate on Fish”. The story goes on to document how NFI paid travel and expenses for a conference of the Maternal Nutrition Group, made up of scientists, dietitians, and doctors to review the latest findings on the health effects of omega 3 on fetal development. Based on the recommendation of this group, the Healthy Mothers Healthy Babies coalition then publicized their recommendations that women need to eat more fish during pregnancy to improve their baby’s health.
A number of national groups are using the fact that NFI paid some expenses in relation to this study to try and discredit the scientific findings. The fact the Times ran this headline shows what a blatant double standard now exists for issues involving the seafood industry.
When do you see the headline “Environmental Money fans arguments against farmed fish”. The answer is never, because there is a double standard.
Environmental groups and organizations, such as the Pew and Packard Foundations, can spend literally millions of dollars in campaigns to promote wild salmon and disparage farmed salmon, and nowhere in the public debate do you ever see the linkage made between the funding sources and the arguments against farmed fish.
We ran a story last month (link) from BC showing somewhere between $5 and $10 million had been spent by environmental foundations specifically to discredit farmed salmon and promote wild salmon.
Yet because the money was not spent by “industry” it is not considered newsworthy-- it is just a fact of life.
But the environmental organizations themselves, from the Sierra Club to the Marine Stewardship Council, operate very much like businesses, even though they don’t have shareholders to which they distribute profits.
Instead, these companies have entrenched management whose goals are to perpetuate the continued growth or survival of the organization while working towards its policy goals. In this sense, they operate like any other management group -- weighing decisions about funding and operations through the lens of what will best perpetuate and enhance their organization. This is based on the implicit belief that maintaining their organization is the first and perhaps most important step towards the policy goal. The only difference is that for seafood business, and for NFI, the goal is to have a profitable business while operating in a sustainable manner, while for an NGO, it is to have a successful non-profit while gaining power and influence through membership, financial clout, and influence with government.
Neither side has a monopoly on the definition of “public good”. In our system, we think that an open and entrepreneurial environment brings the greatest public good because the opportunity for profit and reallocation of resources creates new products, opportunities, and organizations in a way that is more robust and creative than any other type of incentive.
In the case of mercury and fish consumption, there is a strong body of science that suggests that eating more fish means healthier babies. This is the message the industry, and the Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies coalition is trying to get across.
Such a message contradicts the toxicity message from some of the environmental groups, who focus on mercury in seafood to the exclusion of mercury from other food and environmental sources. They focus on seafood because they also want to limit fish consumption for other reasons-- i.e. they think it will help eliminate overfishing. But in our case, the fact NFI spends money to have a conference merits a headline in the NY Times, while the fact that Foundations spend millions to discredit farmed salmon merits nary a peep. Yet farmed salmon is one of the healthiest sources of Omega 3 for most of the population. This is the double standard we live with today.
Founder of Seafood.com News. I have 30 years in the seafood industry. Started in New England. My work with Baader in the 1980's introduced me to the global industry. Started my own Internet business in 1994. Survived the dot com boom / bust by being honest. Partnered with Urner Barry, and built Seafood.com News into our flagship product. Also do a lot of speaking and consulting on market issues, price forecasts and outlook. Currently I work for both harvesters and processors in the crab and shrimp industry in Newfoundland, and the crab industry in Alaska. My personal goal is to contribute to the sustainable growth of the entire seafood industry - which occupies a unique and special place in the lives of everyone who is a part of it.