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Myths and Misconceptions About Fish

Many people frequently worry about eating fish especially after operation or undergoing cancer treatment. Have a read on how aquatic veterinarian respond to the common questions and myths.


1. Are Patin and Tilapia toxic fish? Are these Fish Suitable for Post Operation?

Sometimes, we are advised not to eat seafood or chicken post operation because according to some traditional medicine, they believe it will cause delayed healing. However, there is little evidence to back this up. It is widely known that Patin and Tilapia that reared in aquaculture system have high amount of Omega 3 and 6 due to their diet that consist of fish protein and corn. Scientifically known, Omega 3 in fish is responsible in anticoagulant properties, thus theoretical bleeding risk have led to recommendations that patients should stop taking fish oil before surgery or delay in elective procedures for patients taking fish oil by some health care professionals. But in recent research found out that fish oil did not cause increase perioperative bleeding and higher n-3-PUFA levels are actually associated with lower risk of bleeding.

On the contrary, seafood are well documented good sources of protein and protein is one of the components needed for your body to heal. Surgery creates stress for our bodies, which can deplete nutrients and weaken our immunity, increasing the risk of infections. More importantly, eat a healthy, balanced diet and a wide variety of foods in order to heal well. For those with dietary restrictions or poor food intake, I would encourage to get a dietitian’s advice.


2. Is Frozen Fish Not as Good as Fresh Fish?

Frozen fish is just as good as fresh fish. With correct frozen technique for seafood, the freshness can last from four to six months, according to research. There are several factors that must takes place. First, the fish must be immediately be frozen once they are caught in fishing boats/ from aquaculture farm. Next, it must be process and kept in low temperature of -21 degree Celsius for entire time until thawing.  Nutritional test had been done and proven that there is no much difference with the nutrition of fresh caught fish and properly frozen fish. And in fact, for frozen fish to be sold in market, they must have the certification of Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) and Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) before can be marketed out.

3. How Do We Determine whether the Fish is Toxic or Not?

If we are in the context of how to know whether the fish is still safe to consume, we should practice these:

Overall looks: the fish should feel firm and shiny. The surface must be tight and the scales should be nicely attached. The colour of the fish must be as original as possible and not turning black or green.

Smell: The fish should have mild scent and not strong fishy and rotting smell.

The eyes: The eyes should be shiny and clear. If it has cloudiness, redness and sunken eyes, it can suggest the fish is not too fresh.

The gills: for fresh fish, the gills should be bright pink and red in colour. If is pale and dry, means it is not fresh.


4. What are the Choices of Safe Fish that We Can Consume?

Nowadays, with advancing technology for aquaculture farming, there’s a lot of sea food are able to be culture and enjoyed by us. Most of the common able to culture seafoods either marine or freshwater are safe to consume as these farming is regulated and have a constant auditing from our government certification board of good manufacturing practice (GMP) and good agriculture practice (myGAP). Buying from supplier or premises with this certification definitely is safe to consume as with the information from farm to fork, the fish and fisheries product that are produced under myGAP scheme are guaranteed safe for human consumptions, free from contagious aquatic organism pathogen and are obtain from a sustainable environment practice aquaculture farm.

5. Why Do People Always Saying Fish like Grouper, Wuyu, Redfish etc are Better?

For us that involved aquaculture, we will always agree that all fish are good fish. As long as the nutritional and growth of the fish are being met, they will eventually will grow into a fine fish to be consume. Fish value are sometimes being affected by few factors such as the perspective of the consumer, the texture of the meat, the taste, the avaibility and the price of the fish. Most common relations that consumer always feels these group of fish such as grouper, wuyu, and redfish are better could be due to the texture of the flesh as these fish are from marine environment. Their flesh texture and taste are finer and more delicious to eat when cook well.


Written By,

Dr. Anusia, Aquatic Veterinarian



Akintoye, E., Sethi, P., Harris, W. S., Thompson, P. A., Marchioli, R., Tavazzi, L., Latini, R., Pretorius, M., Brown, N. J., Libby, P., & Mozaffarian, D. (2018). Fish Oil and Perioperative Bleeding. Circulation. Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes, 11(11), e004584.

Kementerian Pertanian dan Industri Asas Tani Malaysia Garispanduan myGAP Malaysia (Putrajaya, MALAYSIA) pp 23-44