Eateries to halt sales of two types of raw fish containing GBS
SINGAPORE — The authorities will be asking eateries to suspend selling raw fish dishes that use Song fish and Toman fish, as a precautionary measure after tests on samples of these fish found traces of Group B Streptococcus (GBS) bacteria.
SINGAPORE — The authorities will be asking eateries to suspend the sale of raw-fish dishes that use Song fish and Toman fish as a precautionary measure after tests on samples of these species found traces of Group B Streptococcus (GBS) bacteria.
A message that was widely circulated last Monday claimed that there has been a surge in the number of GBS infection cases in Singapore. And today (July 24), the authorities confirmed that the number of such cases in public hospitals from January to last month is nearly 60 per cent higher than the full-year average for the past four years.
A limited number of these patients, who typically suffer from fever and pain in the joints, had consumed the Song and Toman fish raw, said the joint statement from the Ministry of Health, the National Environment Agency, and the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority.
But the authorities stressed again that there is “no proven link between eating raw fish and serious GBS disease in humans to date”, adding that while the bacteria can be found in fish, cooking it well before eating it does not pose issues.
The authorities also said they would need to study more cases for a more definite conclusion on the link between the consumption of raw fish and GBS infections.
There were 238 cases of GBS infection in public hospitals in the first half of this year, compared with the average of 150 cases per year from 2011 to 2014. As in previous years, more than half of the cases involved patients over the age of 55.
The joint statement said GBS is a common bacterium found in the human gut and the urinary tract of about 15 to 30 per cent of adults, without causing disease.
“However, GBS may occasionally cause infections of the skin, joints, heart and brain. The risk factors for GBS infection include underlying chronic or co-morbid conditions, such as diabetes,” it added.
While the authorities are temporarily halting the sale of Song and Toman, which are also known as the Asian Bighead Carp and Snakehead respectively, they also advised vulnerable groups of people, especially young children, pregnant women and the elderly, as well as those with chronic illness such as diabetes, to avoid raw ready-to-eat food such as raw oysters and sashimi.
Meanwhile, businesses told TODAY that customers have been staying away from raw fish, resulting in a 30 to 80 per cent drop in their sales of yusheng, a raw fish dish typically sold with porridge in hawker centres throughout the year.
Mr Kiang Chong Tong, 68, who runs Soon Heng Pork and Fish Porridge at Amoy Street Food Centre, said customers were ordering porridge without the fish. “We used to sell about 20 to 30 bowls a day, but that number has fallen by half,” he said.
“It’s not just raw fish,” said Mr Teo Ah Buo, 52, a sales assistant at Ah Chiang’s Porridge. “People are scared of even cooked fish now.”
Its average daily sale of 100 yusheng dishes has plunged to 20.
But some diners are not averse to eating raw fish. Ms Maria Lee, 21, said she would continue to eat sashimi because she did not think she had a high chance of becoming infected.
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