Sunday, January 13, 2013
Shark's fin soup kills sharks and could poison you too
Think twice before you order shark's fin soup in the future, not only is it an endangered species but Chinese experts say it is potentially dangerous to your health.
Zhejiang authorities recently discovered that many shark's fins sold in the market were artificial products and some contained excessive levels of cadmium, an extremely toxic metal.
The artificial shark's fins are made of edible gelatin and seaweed gum. "These outlets purchased fake shark fins at a low price, but sold them to customers as genuine product for up to 1,000 yuan (RM488) a bowl," it said.
Similar results were found in an investigation by the province's Consumer Rights Protection Agency, which randomly selected about 10 samples of shark's fin soup collected from local restaurants for DNA testing. No shark's fin was found in any of the soups!
Insiders revealed that artificial shark's fins are widely available in the market. "Many restaurants and hotels have bought such product from me," said Lin Wenyu–a wholesaler that sells "vegetarian" shark's fin at Shanghai Tongchuanlu Seafood Market.
But it's not just the fake shark's fin soup that's dangerous. The agency also found about one-third of dried shark's fin in the province's markets contained excessive cadmium and methyl mercury.
Local news website Zjol reported that ocean pollution could lead to high levels of metals in the sharks and experts said excessive ingestion of mercury could harm pregnant woman and the development of the fetal brain and nervous system.
In recent decades, demand for shark's fin has increased, raising concerns about the sustainability and welfare of sharks. Each year, about 73 million sharks are killed around the world to meet the increasing demand for shark's fin soup.
The population of some species of shark have declined up to 99% according to WildAid, a wild animal conservation organisation that advocates shark protection.
Sharks are often alive when their fins are sliced off. Since their meat is not considered as valuable as their fins, they are thrown back into the water to drown or bleed to death.
Many Chinese celebrities, including legendary gymnast Li Ning, former NBA icon Yao Ming, retired diving queen Guo Jingjing and singer Liu Huan, have joined in shark protection campaigns.
Some luxury hotels and popular restaurants have also taken the traditional delicacy off the menu to stop the fish from becoming extinct. But many eatery operators continued to serve shark's fin soup, citing commercial concerns.
"The soup is one of the major dishes at banquets. People believe banquets would be degraded without it and they'll not hold events at our outlet if we don't provide this dish," said a restaurateur in Tianjin, who declined to give his name.
Experts said shark's fins are not as nutritious as many people believed. "What it contains is incomplete protein, of which the nutritional value is not as high as people expect," said Chen Shunsheng, professor of College of Food Science at Shanghai Ocean University.
Source: China Daily; ANN
Published: 10th January 2013
It's time to switch to bird nests.