Fish eaters go 'fresh' after phosphates report

Consumption of Chinese frozen fish fillets drops after Kolbotek TV program obtained video of the processing.

Israeli fish eaters are not taking any chances about reports that frozen fillets imported from China are being processed with injections of phosphates and water to make them heavier - they are buying local fresh fish.
Consumption of Chinese frozen fish fillets dropped after Channel 2's Kolbotek consumer program obtained video of the processing, even though the labels on the bags declared they were ordinary frozen fish and not processed.
The Health Ministry spokeswoman said last week that "the responsibility for meeting the products' demands for quality and safety is borne by the manufacturers, importers and marketers."
She added that "ministry staffers who allow the imports‚ entry and marketing depend largely on documents provided by labs which examined the food abroad," and then by commercial labs the ministry has approved that are hired by the importers to test it here after arrival.
While in an ordinary week Israelis buy 350 tons of fresh fish, in the past week they bought 445 tons, an increase of 30 percent. Yosef Ayish, the secretary of the Fish Growers Association, said no additives are put into fresh fish.
"They reach the customer as 100% fish," he said.
The average Israeli consumes 900 grams of fish a month, or 11 kilos a year. Last year, twice as much imported fish, most of it frozen, was eaten by Israelis than locally source fish in the form of fresh pond fish or sea fish.
The ministry, the spokeswoman continued, "recently added a requirement for the food importers to check for the presence of phosphates" in batches of their fish shipments.
"Those fish shipments that the importers' labs say have excessive levels of phosphates or where its presence is not marked on the package are barred entry into the country by the ministry or held back until the labels are corrected," she said.