Food & Drinks

Dry fish contain cancer causing chemicals

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Says shrimp, fish foundation chairman (Staff Correspondent)

Much of the dry fish produced in the country contain heavy chemicals which cause cancer, said Bangladesh Shrimp and Fish Foundation Chairman Syed Mahmudul Huq yesterday.

“Traders want the fish to retain moisture so that they weigh more, but moisture is a good environment for bacteria. Traders then use DDT to kill the bacteria,” he said at a dialogue on “Food Safety Challenges in Bangladesh” at American Club in the capital.

DDT is a popular pesticide that some experts say causes cancer.<!–more–>

“As people in Cox’s Bazar and Chittagong consume more dry fish, you will find more people with cancer there,” Huq said referring to a study on the relationship between chemicals in dry fish and cancer two years back.

Food and public health experts and journalists attended the programme organised by USAID, Bangladesh.

Participants observed that whenever the issue of food adulteration is raised, people talk mainly of fish, fruits, and some processed fruits, but not much of the excessive use of pesticides and adulterated fertiliser in farming and unsafe drinking of water and river pollution.

Dr Sridhar Dharmapuri of Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) said supply of pure water remains a critical issue in terms of Bangladesh, especially in the urban areas.

“Food safety is a matter of shared  responsibility. All the industries and ministries concerned have to work for it,” he said.

Tanya Jackson and Romana El Hamzaoui of USAID, Bangladesh, Dr John Ryder of FAO, Ousmane Seck of Word Bank, and Firdousi Naher of International Food Policy Research Institute, among others, spoke.

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