Shark's fin in Singapore safe to eat: AVA

Straits Times Forum 22 Jun 12;

I THANK Dr Yik Keng Yeong for his feedback ('Shark's fin: Different findings on mercury' in Forum Online; June 14). The Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) regulates the import of food products into Singapore to ensure their safety.

All food products, including shark's fin products from Hong Kong and Thailand, are required to comply with our safety standards and requirements. Hong Kong and Thailand accounted for about 4 per cent of our total import last year.

As part of our routine surveillance programme, shark's fin products are regularly monitored and sampled. Results from our surveillance over the years have shown that mercury was either not detected in the shark's fin products or was at levels well below the limits permitted.

Consignments that fail to meet AVA's stringent requirements are not allowed for sale and will be destroyed.

AVA would like to reassure consumers that shark's fin products available locally are safe for consumption.

Dr Paul Chiew
Director, Laboratories Department
For Chief Executive Officer
Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority

Shark's fin: Different findings on mercury
Straits Times Forum 14 Jun 12;

BEING at the apex of the food chain, sharks accumulate vast amounts of toxic materials that have either been washed into the oceans or dumped there by man.

As confirmed by Singapore's Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority (AVA), the bulk of toxic materials is found in fish muscle ('Shark's fin not 'impregnated with mercury' ' by Mr Tan Keng Tat; last Saturday).

Nevertheless, no organ is spared, even if some selectively accumulate more toxins than others.

We cannot get too little of a bad thing, especially considering how little nutrient or nourishment value there is in shark's fin.

In contrast to the AVA's findings, in 2001, 70 per cent of shark's fin samples sent by conservation group WildAid to the Thailand Institute of Scientific and Technological Research were found to have extremely high levels of mercury.

The discrepancy between this finding and the AVA's was explained thus: The Thai shark's fin samples were imported from Hong Kong, whereas Singapore gets shark's fin from more than 20 countries, of which only 10 per cent come from Hong Kong and 1.4 per cent from Thailand.

This begs the following questions: Do sharks respect national borders? More importantly, do shark's fin aficionados inquire about the provenance of the shark cartilage they are devouring? And in the interim period of the last 11 years, just how has the situation evolved?

It would be edifying to get some answers from the AVA.

Dr Yik Keng Yeong