Last updated on April 19, 2014 at 8:45 EDT

Information Update – High Risk of Botulism from Ungutted Salted Fish Products, such as Fesikh

May 8, 2012

OTTAWA, May 8, 2012 /CNW/ – Health Canada and the Public Health Agency
of Canada are advising Canadians that the consumption of certain whole
salted fish products like fesikh, a traditional dish in the Egyptian
community, represents an increased risk of botulism because of the way
they are prepared.

The fish used to make these specific salted fish dishes, including
fesikh, are not gutted before the ripening and salting process. This
provides an opportunity for Clostridium botulinum bacteria that may be in the gut of the fish to grow and produce the
toxins that cause botulism. These toxins are not eliminated by any
smoking or drying of the end product. Regardless of whether the end
product is whole fish, fillets or parts, refrigeration, freezing, open
air or vacuum packaging will not make the fish safe.

This warning comes as the result of a recent botulism outbreak in
Ontario caused by the consumption of fesikh. While the specific products implicated have been recalled by the Canadian Food
Inspection Agency
, the outbreak has highlighted the risks represented by these products.
Internationally, the consumption of ungutted salted fish, including
fesikh, has been linked to many cases of botulism.

Food contaminated with Clostridium botulinum toxin may not look or smell spoiled. Symptoms of botulism can include
nausea and/or vomiting followed by one or more of: double vision,
blurred vision, drooping eyelids, dry mouth, difficulty speaking,
difficulty swallowing, weakness, respiratory failure and paralysis. In
severe cases, death can occur. Symptoms generally begin 12 to 36 hours
after eating a contaminated food, but they can occur as early as six
hours or as late as 10 days.

Health Canada continues to collaborate with international, federal and
provincial partners to develop and provide detailed guidance with
respect to safe production of these types of product.

Également disponible en français

SOURCE Health Canada

Source: PR Newswire