The outbreak of cases of diphyllobothriasis (fish tapeworm), caused by eating contaminated raw fish, has reduced fresh fish consumption in Brazil. Japanese restaurants in São Paulo, where 27 cases were detected, suffered a 50% drop in sales.
According to José Fritsch, Minister of the Special Secretariat of Aquiculture and Fishing, 90% of the salmon that Brazil imports comes from Chile, and the rest, from countries such as Norway, Germany, and Denmark.
Of the 90% that comes from Chile, all of it is fresh. Fritsch explained that a investigation is underway as to the origin of the product that is introducing the parasite in Brazil.
The Chilean Ambassador to Brazil, Osvaldo Puccio, denied that the contamination might be caused by fish from his country, because Chilean fish are bred, not caught in the wild.
“Scientific evidence shows that the parasite is only present in fish caught in the wild, not in fish that are bred. And 100% of the fish from Chile are bred, with sanitary controls in breeding, raising, feeding, and processing for export.
“The entire process is certified by government and international laboratories; therefore, there is no possibility that Chilean fish are contaminated,” Puccio guaranteed.
According to the Ambassador, Chile exports 11 thousand tons of fresh fish annually to Brazil and 100 thousand tons to the United States, where no cases were registered.
“We don’t have a single case of the parasite registered in the United States, nor in Chile, Argentina, and Europe, which are our biggest markets,” he affirmed. He said that a group of Brazilian officials was invited to review the export production process in Chile.
Imported fresh salmon from Chile was identified as the prime suspect responsible for the contamination that caused the 27 cases of diphyllobothriasis, induced by the consumption of raw fish infected by a parasite.