Jamaica’s poisonous fish scare

July 1st, 2010

I love fish. Cook it anyway that you like and give it to me. Steam it with okra, Fry it with some bammies or brown stew it. I just love it! Therefore, can you imagine the scare I got when I realized that my love for fish might just make me ill? Well to be fair to myself, it’s not really my love for fish that would make me sick, more like the poisonous substance in the fish.

Don’t know what I am talking about? Well check this out. On June 25, 2010, the Health Ministry in Jamaica confirmed that a dangerous chemical substance has been found in fish being sold in the Mandeville Market. This substance is formaldehyde. It is the substance which is generally used in funeral homes to preserve bodies before burial.

According to the Gleaner/ Power 106 news, “The medical officer of health for Manchester, Dr. Beverly Wright, said the authorities launched an investigation after a woman reported being sick having eaten fish from the Mandeville market”.

The Health Department then tested samples from nine vendors in the Mandeville Fish Market. The investigation revealed that all nine samples had mild to severe contamination of the hazardous chemical. The Health Department says more investigations will be done to find the source of the contamination.

However, my advice to all fish lovers is to beware. Although this might never reach your neck of the woods, it would be better to be safe than sorry, (at least until this situation gets under control). How do you believe these fish got contaminated with formaldehyde? Have your say…

Refer to article:

Dangerous chemical found in fish

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17 Responses to “Jamaica’s poisonous fish scare”

  1. Paul says:

    It is obvious that unscrupulous persons are trying to preserve the fish using the chemical; this is not new in Jamaica. Hello!!! This means that the fish is not FRESH. Buyers should beware, and check the fish before purchasing. Simple, even a caveman knows this…

    Of course, the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries (coupled with the Ministry of Health and Environment) should thoroughly investigate the matter and possibly have charges brought against these persons.

  2. lcampbell says:

    the jamaican police have to do a better job in stopping whoever is doing it from putting these chemical on fish,they also put it on the fresh vegetables. they are killing a whole nation. do your job policemen know that the chemical did not put itself on the fish etc.someone needs to go to jail. thank you sir

  3. Igong says:

    A proper investigation would retrace the steps of these fish and Local suppliers of Formaldehyde. Is there a greater issue such as a Commercial Spill? or a freak Industry practice out at sea? Do all these vendors have the same or same group of suppliers? Which of the vendors or suppliers in question have the opportunity to access the chemical? Isolate all the Outlets for the Chemical in Question . I suspect the people possibly responsible for this will not be to forthcoming with information. I am cringing at the idea that our Fishing industry should take such a devastating hit, and Consumers are risking there lives over the unthinkable actions of a few. Here are some of the consequences of consuming Formaldehyde: Although the short-term health effects of formaldehyde exposure are well known, less is known about its potential long-term health effects. In 1980, laboratory studies showed that exposure to formaldehyde could cause nasal cancer in rats. This finding raised the question of whether formaldehyde exposure could also cause cancer in humans. In 1987, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) classified formaldehyde as a probable human carcinogen under conditions of unusually high or prolonged exposure (1). Since that time, some studies of humans have suggested that formaldehyde exposure is associated with certain types of cancer. The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classifies formaldehyde as a human carcinogen.

  4. Igong says:

    A link to the Information Above. ” Although the short-term …”
    National Cancer Institute.
    Formaldehyde and Cancer Risk
    4. Can formaldehyde cause cancer?

  5. noname says:

    i used to work for someone in nyc who did fishing. flounder selling it to resturaunt. when it did not sell( although this was cut fish) they would use brine to keep it . which maybe some idiot used formaldyhyde to keep it fresh or something. ????? are people that stupid. or were they washing it in funeral parlor…

  6. Confused says:

    Poisonous Fish vs Poisoned Fish … do the math

  7. Animals are friends, not food!

  8. raphel says:

    Jamaica is a christian contry where is the love.I bet these venders go to church and have children, I say to them God knows where they live. “REPENT”

  9. mark says:

    This is not new the fishermen who live on pedro cays has being using formaldhyde for years. it not easy buying ice when you are living on pedro cays.

  10. raphel says:

    We forgive you dont think of your loss only always look to GOD HE will give you gain for your loss.

  11. Milan says:

    I believe the vendors who use this embalming fluid to put on these fish should be stripped of their vendor’s license and asked to leave the market. How can you they be so heartless as to sell things that can kill a person, they are murderers and should be charge as such, they are heartless, let the police have no heart with them. Oh the wickedness of some people’s heart, can you imagine giving that contaminated fish to a baby whose system have not fully developed that spell death.

  12. Just A Man says:

    Can anyone tell us what to look for so that we can recognize fish that has been treated with this substance? Would there be any distinguishing smell. Would the eyes look a certain way if it’s been overly-preserved?

  13. Nigel Rickerby says:

    One blogger commented that the Jamaican police need to do a better job. I wish to differ a little. Those dealing in food should be properly trained in the its handling. The Ministry of Health should set the standards for a course leading to such certification, and it should also set the standards for violations. In addition they should have inspectors in the field collecting specimems for lab testing, and they should also have have the power to serve violators with tickets for court appearances. Certified vendors should display a photo ID with dates of expiration, and convicted violators should be banned from dealing in food for human consumption. The role of the police should be limited to an arresting one in the case of those who fail to make their court appearances.

  14. Igong says:

    I can’t help but say that i think this article and the original needs a thorough follow up. Is the Ministry of Food Safety and Health doing a proper investigation? Where is the report from the Ministry? Are they taking more random samples from other fishing ports? Have there been anymore cases of illness of this sort reported? There are so many questions unanswered.

    I would like to see some more investigative journalism. Get to the heart of the matter and inform the public so there can be a definite stop to this.

  15. xica says:

    Both parties are guilty of corruption. They are both selfish and individualistic. Jamaican need a new government, with leaders who love the country not thier pockets.

  16. pan says:


  17. jonny2 says:

    FORMALDHYDE was used as a disinfectant in hospitals when I worked in Jamaica over 40 years ago. It was also available without difficulty. The average fisherman or fish vender in JAMAICA is what I CALL A FUNCTIONAL illiterate who has no knowledge of dangerous chemicals and their carsogenic effects on man and the environment. this the first time I AM COMMENTING ON THIS SUBJECT

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