Egypt’s traditional 'fesikh' dish can cause botulism poisoning, Health Ministry warns



Sun, 19 Apr 2020 - 02:10 GMT


Sun, 19 Apr 2020 - 02:10 GMT

FILE - Fesikh fish - Egypt Today

FILE - Fesikh fish - Egypt Today

CAIRO – 19 April 2020: The Egyptian Ministry of Health strongly warned on Sunday morning against eating fish that is high in salt, including the renga (herring) fish and fesikh, a fermented and salted fish dish made from mullet, a day before the national holiday of Sham El-Nessim.

The ministry said eating fesikh can lead to botulism, a rare fatal illness.

Sham El-Nassim is a festival which dates back to Pharaonic times and used to herald the coming of the spring floods. In modern times, Sham El-Nessim, which translates to “smelling the breeze,” follows the Coptic Orthodox Easter Sunday.

The ministry especially warned pregnant women, children and those suffering chronic and kidney diseases from eating these two dishes, affirming they are made up of up to 17 percent salt.

Health officials warn every year against eating fesikh because it goes through dangerous processes that can ultimately cause hazardous foodborne illnesses.

The Health Ministry urges “complete avoidance of eating these salted fish, including what have been prepared at home, because there is no way to ensure these fish are safe and free from obligate anaerobic bacteria,” the ministry said in a statement.

“This is because its preparation method mainly depends on providing an anaerobic environment in order for fish to be fermented and become ‘fesikh,’ which is a suitable environment for the formation of this bacteria,” the ministry said, noting that this kind of bacteria produces poisons that can cause botulism.

'Renga cake', latest Egyptian invention ahead of Sham El-Nessim

CAIRO - 6 April 2019: Some images of Renga (herring) and Feseekh (fermented fish) cakes appeared on social media platforms in different colors and shapes, while people's reactions over this extraordinary dessert-is differed. As how could a fermented, salted and dried fish be turned into cake?! Renga is a perennial Sham El-Nessim's favorite.

Last week, Egyptian Prime Minister Mustafa Madbouli announced complete closure of public gardens and beaches during the Sham El-Nessim holiday on Monday, over coronavirus.

During a press conference, Madbouli said that all public transportation will be suspended during the day, including Cairo Metro and National Railways.

“We understand the Egyptians' desire to celebrate the holiday; however, these decisions come for the favor of Egyptians amid fears of coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak,” Madbouli said. He added that the government aims to reduce social gatherings as much as possible which will eliminate the spread of Covid 19.

The government decided to fine the violators of these precautionary measures on Monday with LE 4,000 ($254).



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