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Chemically-treated dried fish raises health risk concern

  • Published at 01:33 am September 18th, 2016
Chemically-treated dried fish raises health risk concern
Physicians and nutritionists have warned that consuming the chemically treated dried fish will pose a serious threat to public health. A mobile court conducted a drive at Asadganj dried fish market in Chittagong on September 6, where they found 1,500kg of chemically-treated dried fish and sentenced four dried fish traders to eight months in prison with a fine of Tk340,000 in total. Executive Magistrate Md Arafat Hossain, who led the mobile court, told the Dhaka Tribune: “Traders usually want the dried fish to retain some moisture so that they weigh more, but moisture creates the perfect environment for bacteria breeding. So traders use DDT on the fish to stop bacteria infestation. But DDT use is harmful and can cause cancer.” Asadganj is one of the largest dried fish trading hubs in the country from where dried fish is supplied all over the country. Last year on August 8, another mobile court conducted a drive at Chaktai dried fish market in Chittagong and seized 1,000kg of dried hilsha fish which were sprayed with inedible colour to make them look fresh. Dr Azizur Rahman Siddiqui, civil surgeon in Chittagong district, warned that consuming the chemically treated dried fish may lead to liver and kidney diseases as well as mouth ulcer. “If expectant mothers consume the chemically treated dried fish, their unborn babies may be at the risk of deformities,” he said. “Furthermore, those who work at the dried fish factory are highly likely to suffer from skin-related diseases.” Prabhati Dev, Chittagong district fisheries officer, said dried fish, if prepared properly, is rich with nutrients. “Sundried fish is a lot richer in protein since it gets concentrated in the fish. Dried fish can easily fulfil our everyday protein demand as it is a cheap source of protein,” he said. SM Nazer Hossain, vice-president of Consumers Association of Bangladesh (CAB), expressed concern over the rampant use of chemicals in dried fish and asked the authorities concerned to take action in order to put a stop to the malpractice. However, Md Jamal Hossain, joint secretary of Asadganj Dried fish Merchants’ Association, claimed that the use of chemicals in processing dried fish had reduced significantly. “Traders used to use chemicals because we did not have storage facilities before. But now we have cold storages here and we reject consignments found to be processed with chemicals,” he said.