The Food and Drugs Authority (FDA) has cautioned Ghanaians especially residents of Tema against the consumption of a dead whale washed ashore in the area because it is unhealthy.
A statement for the Authority copied to the Ghana News Agency (GNA) comes on the heel of the carcass of a whale washed ashore at Tema in the Greater Accra Region.
It said the consumption of dead seafood washed ashore must be approached with caution as the cause of death of the fish might adversely affect the health of the consumer.
It said finding fishes washed-ashore on beaches was not strange, however, there were many factors that contribute to dead fish on the shores; pollution of waters, natural predators, and increasing warm levels of the water that cause suffocation of the fish and lead to their death.
It explained that “when a fish dies through chemical poisoning, the chemical in question could be passed on to the consumer or converted into a more toxic chemical during preparation (i.e., cooking, smoking, frying, etc.) of the meal which then causes food poisoning in the consumer.”
“It must also be noted that if the death of fishes is caused by zoonotic pathogens (i.e. a germ that is able to cause disease in both animals and human beings), consumers of that fish are likely to face the same fate as the fish,” the statement said.
Zoonotic diseases are illnesses that can be transferred from animals to humans. Most zoonotic diseases in fish are caused by bacterial infections and can be transmitted to humans via direct contact with both live and dead fish.
It noted that with the above mentioned infections, the food handler could get infected through skin lesions while handling the fish.
“This means infection may not even require the consumption of the fish. Again, dead fish deteriorates very rapidly when exposed to heat and ambient weather conditions. Deteriorating fish has been known to cause severe cases of food poisoning,” it stated.
It said although whale meat had been proven to be edible, recent studies have shown that whales carry a lot of mercury in their bodies due to their feeding on large amounts of smaller fish.
“The highest allowable average concentration for mercury in humans is 0.46 microgram /gram per week whereas the mercury levels in the liver of whales are 370 micrograms /grams.
“This is an indication of the concentration of mercury in the body of the whale. Thus, the safety of whale meat for consumption by humans cannot be guaranteed.
“Mercury poisoning causes tremors, headaches, difficulty sleeping, impaired sensations, kidney damage, and breathing difficulties,” it added.