Health minister says tapeworm infected fish ‘contain protein’, so safe to eat

Detik News – March 29, 2018
Illustration of canned mackerel and tapeworms (Detik)
Illustration of canned mackerel and tapeworms (Detik)

Tsarina Maharani, Jakarta – The Food and Drug Monitoring Agency (BPOM) has ordered the withdrawal of several brands of canned mackerel because they contain tapeworms.

Health Minister Nila F Moeloek however says that the tapeworms are not a big problem for the human body as long as they are cooked properly.

“The worms actually contain protein, I think I could give several examples. If they are cooked I think they would be sterile right. God willing it will not cause (illness)”, said Moeloek at the House of Representatives (DPR) building at the parliamentary complex in Senayan, Jakarta, on Thursday March 29.

Moeloek claimed that she was unaware of BPOM’s order to withdraw 27 brands of canned mackerel from circulation. According to Moeloek, the issued doesn’t need to be blown out of proportion to the point of creating fear among the public.

“Not always the small things it’s all been coordinated [sic]. If they  (BPOM) have resolved it, then there’s a resolution, I think that’s enough”, she said.

As has been reported, the BPOM has conducted sampling and tests on 541 samples of canned fish comprising 66 brands. The results showed that 27 brands (138 products) contained worm parasites, including 16 imported brands and 11 domestic brands.

It is also known that these domestic brands use raw materials originating from imports. The BPOM has also ordered importers and producers to withdraw the products from the market and destroy them.

The canned mackerel contaminated by tapeworms are suspected to have originated from the China Sea. Although the parasites are not dangerous, they could be a problem for some people.

“It depends on the individual, case by case. The worms have protein right, but they may create problems for certain people who could be allergic. Just the same as eggs, in general there isn’t a problem right, but for some there are problems”, said food expert Prof Dr Hardinsyah from the Sahid University in Jakarta.

The BPOM itself says that the worms that were found were already dead. BPOM chief Penny K Lukito also suggested that the worms in the canned mackerel are not automatically poisonous or dangerous to the body.

“The worms found were already dead, after we investigated what the consequences would be and the like, because they were found to be dead, perhaps an expert could explain, the effect is that there are no dangerous chemicals”, said Lukito on Wednesday March 28. (tsa/elz)

[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was Ada Parasit di Produk Makarel, Menkes: Cacing Isinya Protein.]