Global Observer

Study shows high level of neurotoxins in shark fins

Posting in Food

HONG KONG -- China didn't exactly need another reason to stop eating shark fin. But here it is.

Shark fin soup just got more booable

HONG KONG — Researchers have found that shark fins contain a high level of neurotoxins.

The study, conducted at the University of Miami, was published in the journal Marine Drugs last month. The neurotoxin found has been linked to Alzheimer's disease and Lou Gehrig's disease.

The scientists who conducted the study said it is likely that the neurotoxins accumulate in sharks because they are at the top of the food chain.

Sales of shark fin is already banned in California, Oregon, Hawaii and Washington. It has come off the menus are several swanky hotels in Hong Kong. The younger generation is generally not that into it. And former NBA star Yao Ming has spoken out against eating the traditional delicacy.

But it is still in vogue among wealthy Chinese, who are happy to splurge on some expensive soup once enjoyed by emperors. So the next time you see someone about to contribute to the dubious shark-fin industry, just say the words “degenerative brain disease.”

Health risks notwithstanding, shark fin soup has a bad rap because of the act of “finning,” which is when a shark is caught only to have its fins cut off. Its carcass is then thrown back into the water, where the shark drowns. The practice is seen as cruel and wasteful. The decimation of the ocean’s top predators also poses a threat to marine ecosystems.

Photo: Flickr/snowpea&bokchoi

Share this

Vanessa Ko

Correspondent (Hong Kong)

Vanessa Ko has written for TIME, South China Morning Post and Phnom Penh Post. She holds degrees from Northwestern University and the University of Hong Kong. She is based in Hong Kong, China. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure