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Fishing industry quiet on worms in cod: report

Fishing industry quiet on worms in cod: report

Published: 03 Jul 2011 12:39 GMT+02:00
Updated: 03 Jul 2011 12:39 GMT+02:00

A growing seal population in the Baltic sea has brought with it an unwanted consequence - the cod worm (anisakis), which can cause vomiting, diarrhea, and intense stomach aches if ingested, is steadily becoming more common in the Baltic area.

But the Swedish fishing industry has kept a tight lid on information about the growing numbers, according to a report in newspaper Dagens Nyheter (DN).

"The worry is that it'll have very negative consequences, and that people will stop eating fish. So we want more information on the subject and so far this has not been a financial priority," Sven-Gunnar Lunneryd, an expert on seals, told the newspaper.

Though the symptoms usually disappear within two weeks, severe cases can see the cod worm eating its way through the stomach and showing up in other places in the body.

According to the DN report, one unlucky man in the United States suffered from a truly stubborn cod worm after eating sushi.

The parasite crawled up his esophagus, and from there proceeded to eat its way through into the man's neck.

Another incident reported by the paper was one sufferer who coughed up live worms after experiencing a ticklish and achy throat.

But when a similar revelation was made in Germany in the 1980's it caused a significant drop in fish consumption and authorities are fearing the same will happen in Sweden, Lunneryd told the paper.

"There aren't any reports about this being common in the Baltic, so I got interested and looked through 2,000 fishes collected in the area. From these we can see that the parasite is quite common."

Southern areas of Sweden, including the southern coast of Skåne and the waters outside Blekinge and Öland, seem to be hit especially hard.

According to Lunneryd, this is well known among his co-workers at the Swedish Board of Fisheries (Fiskeriverket, now Havs- och vattenmyndigheten).

But even so, he says no official investigations have been made, nor have any reports been written. In fact, Lunneryd's study was made in his own free time.

One person who's seen the cod worm up close is Harry Löfgren, who was just about to eat his newly-caught cod on Friday when he received a nasty surprise.

"I noticed something moving in my sauce," the 9-year-old told DN.

Despite his father cooking the fresh caught cod, the worms, which were "yellow and about a centimeter long", were very much alive, according to the newspaper.

"Next time we will freeze the fillets before we cook them," the boy told the paper.

TT/Clara Guibourg (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

14:15 July 3, 2011 by jacquelinee
that is disgusting. I guess evry kind of edible flesh should be well done when it is cooked.
17:13 July 3, 2011 by el dorado
In regard to health concerns in general, there's also supposed to be rising numbers of tuberculosis in Sweden...
21:34 July 3, 2011 by MarkinBoston
Sushi chefs are trained to find and remove such worms - they're actually quite common in ocean-going fish. And here in the states, when cod are filleted they are examined over a light table to find them. Cod is sold in every supermarket, and problems are extremely rare. Game fishermen who go out on boats to catch cod for personal consumption do have to be careful about cleaning cod and cooking them fully through.
02:48 July 4, 2011 by GLO
You dont eat raw fish!!!!
15:57 July 4, 2011 by David Kemp
My late father-in-law who was a fisherman in Orkney would never eat cod. He always said that it was full of worms, as it was a 'bottom feeder' and ate all the rubbish on the sea floor. My wife still never eats cod to this day. I only eat it as fish and chips in the UK when I reckon the frying will have killed anything harmful. Stick to haddock, herring and salmon.
00:48 July 7, 2011 by nimshubur
Of course fish have worms. Freeze fish to be eaten raw. Cook fish thoroughly, as you would pork. For extra safety, freeze all fish, and then cook thoroughly.

Anisakis can be transmitted by seals, but are as likely to be excreted by cetaceans. As for herring and salmon, anisakis are quite common in those species.

Freshwater species can also transmit parasites.
18:23 July 8, 2011 by lindenb
Your lucky that it isnt as bad as this unfortunate Australian Couple... not normally found in Australia, worms larvae eaten from fish. 30% of eels in Asia have them.. a delicacy in parts of Asia.. These worms have teeth and can attach organs and the spin for over 10yrs if untreated.. first of its kind find in Australia..

http://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/more-news/horror-as-tiny-worms-attack-victorian-couple/story-fn7x8me2-1226087494573
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