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Spain Bans Fresh Fish From Menu

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posted on Dec, 17 2006 @ 01:15 AM
A government decree issued this week by the Spanish Food Security Agency orders all restaurants to freeze fish and shellfish for 24 hours prior to preparing. The reason is a parasite worm called 'Anisakis simplex' which has been found in 36% of fish captured in Spanish waters in 2005. The measure has been met with anger and called "an over-reaction" by the restaurant industry, who claims the infected fish are not from the Mediteranian but the North Atlantic.
"This is an exaggeration brought in by people who do not know how cooking really works", one chef says.
Humans are at risk when they eat uncooked or lightly cooked fish or raw shellfish, typically found in sushi restaurants. Anisakis has been found in Scandinavia, Japan and the Netherlands, where raw or lightly done fish is commonly served.

The only reliable way to kill the parasite is to freeze the fish and shellfish for at least 24 hours at minus 20C.

Spain's Deputy Prime Minister, Maria Teresa Fernandez de la Vega, said: "This problem is especially important for our country because it is one of the biggest consumers of fish in the world."

But already a campaign run by angry chefs and restaurateurs, called Furious Gastronomy, has started against the government's measure.

Please visit the link provided for the complete story.

The life cycle of Anisakis depends on a number of hosts. Eggs hatch in sea water and larvae are eaten by crayfish or crustaceans, usually Euphausids. The infected crustaceans are subsequently eaten by fish or squids and develops into a worm who burrows itself into the wall of the gut and encysts in a protective coat. The life cycle is completed when an infected fish is eaten by a marine mammal. The nematode as the worm is called, excysts in the intestine, feeds, grows, mates and releases eggs into the sea water in the hosts feces. If the encapsulation takes place in a human Anisakiasis is developed.

Wiki has this on the illness:


Anisakiasis is the disease caused by infection with Anisakis worms. It is frequently reported in areas of the world where fish is consumed raw, lightly pickled or salted. The areas of highest prevalence are Scandinavia (from cod livers), Japan (after eating sushi and sashimi), the Netherlands (by eating infected fermented herrings (Maatjes)), and along the Pacific coast of South America (from eating ceviche). Heating to 60 °C, or freezing to below −20 °C is an effective method of killing Anisakis.

Within hours after ingestion of infective larvae, violent abdominal pain, nausea, and vomiting may occur. Occasionally the larvae are coughed up. If the larvae pass into the bowel, a severe eosinophilic granulomatous response may also occur 1 to 2 weeks following infection, causing symptoms mimicking Crohn's disease.

Diagnosis can be made by gastroscopic examination during which the 2 cm larvae are visualized and removed, or by histopathologic examination of tissue removed at biopsy or during surgery.

Besides this course, infected fish can produce an anaphylactic reaction in people sensitive to Immunoglobulin E.

The reason I bring this forward is, this parasite seems to always have been around, but frankly, coming from a fish producing and exporting country I've never heard about it, let alone illnesses following the path described. So, why this sudden alert and banning?

It might be taken as a travel advisory, but why should Spain want to take such drastic measures and scare visitors off?

Something more seriously sticks under here is my feeling, and I can't find any indications it suddenly should have multiplied or become more common.

Could it be that its metabolism has changed to more toxic byproducts and thus now posses a greater threat? But then again freezing wouldn't eliminate that.

Here's what the FDA has on Anisakis simplex.

Related News Links:

posted on Dec, 17 2006 @ 10:06 AM
Good work.

I wonder about this too - Why take such drastic action and threaten the tourism industry if it's not essential?

...Public heath and safety concerns always take a back seat to industry and the 'economy.' So when government takes actions, we know there's a really good reason.

I don't know anything about this parasite but I suspect it may be evolving into a more serious form, and perhaps spreading, due to climate change.

Please do keep us updated.


posted on Dec, 17 2006 @ 11:32 PM

Originally posted by soficrow
I wonder about this too - Why take such drastic action and threaten the tourism industry if it's not essential?

Exactly what I keep asking myself. Spain is the number one fish consuming country on the planet, and world famous for its fishdishes. Sure this will hit their tourist industry.

What we know about this parasite is it's a Nematode, commonly known as roundworm, one of the most widely distributed parasits found. Also I've become aware Anisakis bears the popular name of 'cod-worm'. An identification that shows it not to be uncommon. Still, coming from a background with high health awareness, I've never heard about it.

Which to me is a parameter showing it to not previously have been considered a health risk or any serious problem.

Why - obviously - is it then now?

I've searched medical articles on it, and what I'm able to find out is it seems to be a species with great mutability. The details, taken the language such articles are written in, is hard for me to interpret.

I bring excerpts from a couple of them here, as well as the search list.

A Full List of Anasakis search on (1157 articles)

[Study from 1997]
Genetic and ecological data on the Anisakis simplex complex, with evidence for a new species
A number of samples were found to belong to A. simplex sensu stricto and Anisakis pegreffii, widely extending the geographic ranges and the number of hosts of these 2 species. In addition, a new distinct gene pool was detected, showing different alleles with respect to A. simplex s. str and A. pegreffii at 5 diagnostic loci (99% level). Samples with this gene pool were assigned to a new species, provisionally labeled A. simplex C. Reproductive isolation between A. simplex C and the other 2 Anisakis species was directly assessed by the lack of hybrid and recombinant genotypes in mixed samples from sympatric areas, i.e., Pacific Canada for A. simplex C+A. simplex s. str., South Africa and New Zealand for A. simplex C+A. pegreffii, even when such samples were recovered from the same individual host. Similar levels of genetic divergence were observed among the three species (DNei from 0.36 to 0.45). At the intraspecific level, Canadian Pacific and Austral populations of A. simplex C were found to be genetically rather differentiated from one another (average DNei = 0.08), contrasting with the remarkable genetic homogeneity detected within both A. simplex s. str. and A. pegreffii (average DNei about 0.01).


[Study from 2005]
Evidence for a new species of Anisakis Dujardin
In the present study, a new biological species of Anisakis Dujardin, 1845, was detected in Kogia breviceps and K. sima from West Atlantic waters (coast of Florida) on the basis of 19 (nuclear) structural genes studied by multilocus allozyme electrophoresis. Fixed allele differences at 11 enzyme loci were found between specimens of both adults and larvae of the new species and the other Anisakis spp. tested. Reproductive isolation from A. brevispiculata Dollfus, 1968 was demonstrated by the lack of hybrid or recombinant genotypes in mixed infections in K. breviceps. Genetic distance of the new species from its closest relative, A. brevispiculata, was D(Nei)=0.79. The new species is morphologically different from the other species which have been genetically characterised and from the other Anisakis retained by Davey (1971) as valid or as species inquirendae: the name of Anisakis paggiae n. sp. is proposed for the new taxon. Anisakis Type II larvae (sensu Berland, 1961) from the European hake Merluccius merluccius in the northeastern Atlantic Ocean (Galician coast) and from the scabbard fish Aphanopus carbo in Central Atlantic waters (off Madeira), were identified as A. paggiae n. sp. Its genetic relationships with respect to the seven species previously characterised (A. simplex (Rudolphi, 1809) sensu stricto), A. pegreffii Campana-Rouget & Biocca, 1955, A. simplex, (A. typica (Diesing, 1860), A. ziphidarum Paggi et al., 1998, A. physeteris Baylis, 1923 and A. brevispiculata) were also inferred. Overall, a low genetic identity was detected at allozyme level between the eight Anisakis species.

I guess this is saying they keep finding new species, but does it mean they have always been there, just undetected?

Or are they talking about mutations?

This study ADVERSE REACTIONS TO FISH talks about infection and immune/toxic reactions.

Humans become accidental hosts of the larvae by eating raw, undercooked or pickled fish, resulting in clinical symptoms.3 In a typical reaction, the worm penetrates the intestinal mucosa, and gastro-intestinal symptoms may occur in the first hour but can take up to 6 hours to develop. However, the worm is expelled after about 3 weeks by the immune system. During the time spent in humans, the worm releases a wide range of proteins, somatic and excretory, some of which seem to have immunological similarities to common allergens. Very probably during this period, sensitisation to Anisakis-derived allergens is taking place. The clinical manifestations vary from gastro-intestinal reactions to urticaria, angioedema and life-threatening anaphylactic shock and bronchoconstriction.4 It is not always easy to differentiate between infestation and an allergic reaction.

Expert members, please come forward and try to evaluate this.

The emphasis are mine.

posted on Dec, 17 2006 @ 11:51 PM
Isn't the spanish government socialist? Perhaps they are doing this as a top down reaction that they feel is in the publics interests, economics and industry concerns be damned.

Also, if they infect 36% of the fish caught in the country, then it doesn't seem too reactionary. Freezing the fish will kill the parasite, and especially in combination with cooking and/or salting, it should drastically reduce the human exposure.

posted on Dec, 19 2006 @ 02:19 PM
Nygdan's right - a socialist government may be more inclined to act to protect public health. But not necessarily - most are caught up in 'negotiations' and trying to play with the big guys. I think they call it "economically necessary."

khunmoon - looks to me like a) there ARE new species evolving, and b) the toxins are new too, and more likely to create an allergic response at least.

Probably the same mutation-evolution dynamic happening in every other lifeform on the planet.

So yes - dangerous to human health, and worth watching. IMO - it would be interesting to track the evolution of human resistance to the new toxins.


posted on Dec, 19 2006 @ 02:43 PM
Nice find. The oceans are warming and oceanlife is dying, too. Warmer oceans would mean that bacteria, etc. could flourish more. It's happening too rapidly for oceanlife to evolve and adjust. There is also way too much mercury in fish, too.

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