Cheap cheap fish! The above is an ad (from one of the large supermarket chains in France) for the fish known as Pangas (also called, Pangasius, Vietnamese River Cobbler, Basa Fish and White Catfish, Tra, Gray Sole). It was a reminder to tell you about the dangers of this strange but increasingly popular fish. I learned about them and how they’re raised a while ago on an informative documentary online here: Documentary about Pangas. (which is in French. If you don’t speak French, read below.)
Would the French call it Poisson ou poison?
Industrially farmed in Vietnam along the Mekong River, Pangas or whatever they’re calling it, has only been recently introduced to the French market. However, in a very short amount of time, it has grown in popularity in France. The French are slurping up Pangas like it’s their last meal of soup noodles. They are very, very affordable (cheap), are sold in filets with no bones and they have a neutral (bland) flavor and texture; many would compare it to cod and sole, only much cheaper. But as tasty as some people may find it, there’s, in fact, something hugely unsavory about it. I hope the information provided here will serve as very important information for you and your future choices. Here’s why I think it is better left in the shops (and not on your dinner plates):
1. Pangas are teeming with high levels of poisons and bacteria. (industrial effluents, arsenic, and toxic and hazardous by-products of the growing industrial sector, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), DDT and its metabolites (DDTs), metal contaminants, chlordane-related compounds (CHLs), hexachlorocyclohexane isomers (HCHs), and hexachlorobenzene (HCB)). The reasons are that the Mekong River is one of the most polluted rivers on the planet and this is where pangas are farmed and industries along the river dump chemicals and industrial waste directly into it. To Note: a friend lab tests these fish and tells us to avoid eating them due to high amounts of contamination. Regardless of the reports and recommendations against selling them, the supermarkets still sell them to the general public knowing they are contaminated.
3. Pangas are not environmentally sustainable, a most unsustainable food you could possibly eat – “Buy local” means creating the least amount of environmental harm as possible. This is the very opposite end of the spectrum of sustainable consumerism. Pangas are raised in Vietnam. Pangas are fed food that comes from Peru (more on that below), their hormones (which are injected into the female Pangas) come from China. (More about that below) and finally, they are transported from Vietnam to France. That’s not just a giant carbon foot print, that’s a carbon continent of a foot print.
4. There’s nothing natural about Pangas – They’re fed dead fish remnants and bones, dried and ground into a flour, from South America, manioc (cassava) and residue from soy and grains. This kind of nourishment doesn’t even remotely resemble what they eat in nature. But what it does resemble is the method of feeding mad cows (cows were fed cows, remember?) What they feed pangas is completely unregulated so there are most likely other dangerous substances and hormones thrown into the mix. The pangas grow at a speed light (practically!): 4 times faster than in nature…so it makes you wonder what exactly is in their food? Your guess is as good as mine.
5. Pangas are Injected with Hormones Derived from Urine – I don’t know how someone came up with this one out but they’ve discovered that if they inject female Pangas with hormones made from the dehydrated urine of pregnant women, the female Pangas grow much quicker and produce eggs faster (one Panga can lay approximately 500,000 eggs at one time). Essentially, they’re injecting fish with hormones (they come all of the way from a pharmaceutical company in China) to speed up the process of growth and reproduction. That isn’t good. Some of you might not mind eating fish injected with dehydrated pee so if you don’t good for you, but just consider the rest of the reasons to NOT eat it.
6. You get what you pay for – and then some. Don’t be lured in by insanely cheap price of Pangas. Is it worth risking your health and the health of your family?
7. Buying Pangas supports unscrupulous, greedy evil corporations and food conglomerates that don’t care about the health and well-being of human beings. They only are concerned about selling as many pangas as possible to unsuspecting consumers. These corporations only care about selling and making more money at whatever cost to the public.8. Pangas will make you sick – If (for reasons in #1 above) you don’t get immediately ill with vomiting, diarrhea and effects from severe food poisoning, congratulations, you have an iron stomach! But you’re still ingesting POISON not poisson.Final important note: Because of the prodigious amount of availability of Pangas, be warned that they will certainly find their way into other foods: surimi (those pressed fish things, imitation crab sticks), fish sticks, fish terrines, and probably in some pet foods. (Warn your dogs and cats and hamsters and gerbils and even your pet fish!)
Watch this Report on Pangas (in French) (Video excerpt from Capitale on M6, which aired about 3 months ago)