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(From The Yomiuri Shimbun/Daily Yomiuri)
HOW SAFE IS OUR FOOD? / Fugu case illustrates food safety problems
This is the 10th installment of a series of articles on the safety of our food.
By Kakuya Ishida
Daily Yomiuri Staff Writer
NAGASAKI--Consumer awareness on food safety has been growing, while cheaper food ingredients also are being sought. When producers put a priority on efficiency, and toxic agricultural chemicals are needed to meet mounting demand for food at low prices, how should we address the issue of food safety?
Nagasaki's fugu problem may be illustrative.
On a snowy day in mid-January, fugu farmers in Takashima, an island with a population of about 3,000 in northern Nagasaki Prefecture, were energetically working in the early morning to cut the pectoral fins of cultured fugu with scissors to show that the chemical formalin had been used on the fish.
"We've had to engage in work that goes beyond the conventional process of shipping fugu since the problem surfaced last spring," a woman in her 50s said.
In April last year, it came to light that formalin, an aqueous solution of formaldehyde, was being used in Nagasaki Prefecture, with the largest cultured fugu production in the country, to eliminate parasites in culture ponds.
Formaldehyde is used mainly as a disinfectant and preservative in synthesizing other compounds and resins. Recently it has drawn attention as a carcinogen that causes sick-house syndrome.
The Health, Labor and …