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  • Whale meat isn’t good for you

    Posted by Ralf Goergens on August 11th, 2007 (All posts by )

    Link via The Chumslick

    TOKYO (Reuters) – Whalemeat served in school lunches in an area of rural Japan are contaminated with alarming levels of mercury, a local assemblyman said on Wednesday, calling for a halt in plans for the meat to be shipped to schools nationwide.
     
    Hisato Ryono, a assemblyman in Taiji, a historic whaling town some 450 km (280 miles) west of Tokyo, said two samples of short-finned pilot whale had mercury levels 10 to 16 times more than advised by the Health Ministry.

    Ryono and a fellow assemblyman conducted tests after local authorities ignored their calls to have the whalemeat inspected before it was served in school lunches in the town’s kindergartens and elementary and junior high schools.

    Whalers are an important voting demographic, you wouldn’t want to alienate them just because the meat they bring in is poisonous.

     

    7 Responses to “Whale meat isn’t good for you”

    1. Jonathan Says:

      Wait a minute. Are you saying I shouldn’t have eaten all those whale steaks, whale sausages, or potatoes deep-fried in whale lard?

    2. Ralf Goergens Says:

      I suppose not, but even so they should still be healthier than the whale wurst I ate before reading the article myself. Not to point to fine a point on it, your classic German whale wurst contains an entire gound-up whale. If I were a bulimic, I could fill up a whole battery of…, oh, never mind.

    3. Dave Schuler Says:

      Presumably, this is the reason that Japan wants Laos on the International Whaling Commission so that the Japanese can hunt more whales whose meat will have to be recalled.

    4. Shannon Love Says:

      Ralf Goergens,

      No offensive but this is an obvious political stunt and bad science.

      Even if you trust the reports of a politician. two samples don’t tell anyone squat about the potential contaminate intake of eating the whale meat. Contaminate levels in all foods vary a great deal more than people think. Even the most expensive, high-status organic produce will show considerable variation in contaminates from sample to sample.

      Even if the individual chunks of meat did test as reported, any person could safely consume the individual chunks with no ill effect. To represent a problem, all the meat would have to be contaminated and an individual would have to eat a lot of whale meat. Given the Japanese high levels of mercury bearing seafood consumption in general, I find it difficult to believe that a little extra whale meat poses much of a problem.

    5. Ralf Goergens Says:

      Shannon,

      whale meat generally contains large amounts of toxic substances, and not just that “harvested” by Japanese whalers:

      OSLO – Norwegian scientists scuppered whalers’ hopes of selling a “blubber mountain” to Japan this week by ruling the fat was too toxic for human consumption.

      A scientific committee said a stockpile of about 500 tonnes of blubber in freezer warehouses in northern Norway contained dangerously high levels of banned PCB industrial chemicals.

      “Human consumption of whale blubber would lead to unacceptable levels of PCBs,” Janneche Utne Skaare, deputy director of the National Veterinary Institute and a scientist on the panel, told Reuters.

      Furthermore, whaling serves no economic purpose and can only continue because it is higghly subsidized. Whale meat mosstlyy ends up in cold storaage, aand government then tries to find new markets for it. Serving it up to schoolchildren is only one example of that.

    6. Ralf Goergens Says:

      I forgot to close the blockquote tag,

      “Furthermore, whaling serves no economic purpose and can only continue because it is higghly subsidized. Whale meat mosstlyy ends up in coldblocked. storaage, aand government then tries to find new markets for it. Serving it up to schoolchildren is only one example of that.”

      isn´t supposed to be blocked.

    7. John Jay Says:

      This is less of a dumping of whale meat into school lunches and more of a “we had to suffer this, so you will too“:

      During most of the 20th century whales were still considered fair game, and the US even tested their newest bombs on them–something unthinkable nowadays. In Japan whale consumption peaked in the 1960s when whale meat was the biggest source of animal protein in the country’s diet. Older generations still remember how school lunches monotonously featured whale meat.

      I also wouldn’t say that it serves no economic purpose. it is an acquired taste, though.