Plant toxins hazardous to health: Greenpeace warns of chemicals in edible fish
Farmed fish such as salmon and trout are sometimes heavily contaminated with a banned crop protection product, according to a study by the environmental protection organization Greenpeace. The chemical ethoxyquin has been shown to alter liver metabolism. It is also said to be carcinogenic.
Germans love fish
Fish is popular with the Germans. According to the Fish Information Center (FIZ), German citizens consumed a total of 1.15 million tons of it in 2015. Fish is considered very healthy. According to the German Society for Nutrition (DGE), regular fish consumption - especially high-fat fish - can reduce the risk of fatal heart attacks, ischemic strokes and fat metabolism disorders. But edible fish is often contaminated with chemicals that are hazardous to health. This is also shown by a current study by the environmental protection organization Greenpeace.
Substances hazardous to health
Substances that can harm health are always found in edible fish. The food inspectors from Stiftung Warentest, for example, found mercury and mineral oils in all tuna varieties tested during an investigation.
And when researching the NDR magazine “Markt”, the harmful substance ethoxyquin was found in farmed salmon. According to studies, this can cause a change in liver metabolism. It is also said to be carcinogenic.
A laboratory study of fish products from salmon, trout, sea bream and sea bass commissioned by the environmental protection organization Greenpeace has now shown that farmed fish is heavily contaminated with the chemical ethoxyquin.
Permitted maximum quantity exceeded many times over
According to the experts, ethoxyquin is used to make animal feed, such as fish meal, durable for transportation. The EU Commission no longer approved the active substance as a plant protection product in 2011 due to "a number of concerns".
According to Greenpeace, the maximum amount permitted by law for various foods, such as meat, is 50 micrograms per kilogram (50 µg / kg). But more than 17 times as much was found in the most polluted sample.
According to toxicologists, the intake of ethoxyquin in this amount is not an acute health hazard, but long-term studies are missing.
Fish from organic aquaculture less polluted
A total of 54 fish products were tested for ethoxyquin in the laboratory. All 38 fish samples from conventional aquaculture are contaminated, with 32 samples significantly above the limit for meat.
The highest ethoxyquin load, at 881 µg / kg, is found in a salmon product from Norwegian aquaculture (Stremel Salmon from Real) - more than 17 times the meat limit.
According to Greenpeace, fish samples from organic aquaculture are well below the meat limit - with one exception (organic salmon fillet, Edeka, 155 µg / kg).
Forbidden plant poison has lost nothing in fish
"Ethoxyquin is a banned crop protection product and has lost nothing in fish," said Thilo Maack, fishery expert at Greenpeace in a press release. "It is negligent that this chemical ends up in the environment and on the plate of consumers."
Greenpeace calls for an EU-wide ban on ethoxyquin as a feed additive and a ban on sales of fish products that are above the limit for meat.
Change in liver metabolism
Comprehensive data on the effects of ethoxyquin on humans and the environment are still lacking. "To date, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has not given a final judgment on the toxicity of ethoxyquin," Greenpeace wrote in a message.
However, individual scientific studies and studies suggest that ethoxyquin can damage the genetic material, change the liver metabolism and can be carcinogenic. In addition, kidney function damage, hypothyroidism, reproductive disorders and DNA damage were found in animal experiments.
As long as there is no ban on the questionable substance, Maack recommends that consumers: "Rarely and consciously eat fish, take a close look when buying fish, avoid fish from conventional aquaculture and choose wild fish that are not overfished." (Ad)