CAIRO: The Consumer Protection Agency (CPA) has warned the public against buying salted fish, ahead of spring celebrations, from “unlicensed” markets or street vendors, according to a Thursday bulletin.
The agency said that the fermented fish sold by street vendors are vulnerable to dust and microbes, thus could lead to paralysis and death.
Instead, Atef Yaqoub, the head of the agency, urged citizens to buy the salted fish; an indispensable meal on Sham el-Nessim (Smell the Breeze) feast, from markets and shops licensed to sell these kinds of fish, and to check its validity, smell and color.
Yaqoub also noted that freezing salted fish, including Fesikh and Ringa (Herring) reduces bacteria and parasites.
He further warned people suffering high blood pressure and patients with kidney failure and liver problems against eating Fesikh, as it contains excessive salts and would raise blood pressure suddenly.
Yaqoub said that the fish pollution symptoms develop into a functional paralysis of nerves feeding the eye muscles causing the fall of the upper eyelid and double vision, as well as difficulty in breathing normally. He advised those who suffer these symptoms to head immediately to the nearest hospital.
The Health Ministry has repeatedly warned against the “incorrect” preparation of the smelly meal.
In the bulletin, Yaqoub urged people to wash the fish with water, lemon and vinegar, as well as serve it with green onion, lettuce and carrots, as they reduce the risk of harmful bacteria.
Over the past weeks, Supply Police have announced seizing tons of contaminated fermented fish from vendors, factories and unlicensed markets, in intensive campaigns.
Although warnings are reiterated every year ahead of the occasion, food poisoning cases are still reported after ingesting fesikh.
Sham el-Nessim is a national holiday that is celebrated on the Monday after Easter; it falls this year on May 2.
A full traditional meal on that day consists of salted fish, onions, lettuce, and bread.
Egyptians have other traditions in celebrating Sham el-Nessim; coloring eggs, visiting parks and zoos, and eating a salted and smoked herring sold in air vacuumed packages called ringa.
The Cairo Post has previously published few tips to avoid food poisoning after eating fesikh. You can check the story here.