An investigation conducted by the Nation revealed that consumers purchase petrol/kerosene contaminated dried fish in the market for consumption.

The investigation revealed that a common practice among those who dry fish, a tot of petrol or kerosene is applied to the affected area as and when worms are spotted and when the sun is back they put the petrol coated fish out to dry.

A dried fish producer who wished to remain anonymous said when exposed to sunlight, petrol evaporates and therefore the practice isn’t necessarily harmful to consumers. He said for obvious reasons, this was a common practice among those engaged in the dry fish business and is the “best kept secret” of the industry so far.

“Almost all the fish that’s there in the market today are dried this way. Earlier, during the rainy season we could properly dry the fish and when these worms get formed we had to throw away in bulks. I do not know who invented this; but for all I know, this practice is pretty common,” he said.

In his defense, he said no cases of food poisoning or death have so far been reported from people eating dry fish. He also cracked that people eat far worse things and quipped that they would have to look for cheaper alternatives if the petrol prices increased.
Meanwhile, Nation spoke to Dr. Vajira Palipana, a general physician to inquire about what kind of an effect consuming petrol-contaminated food can have on the human body. Contrary to the claim of the dry fish processors, Dr. Palipana said consuming petrol can lead to complications in the central nervous system.

“Even in small quantities, petrol can have extremely harmful effects on the human body. It can cause encephalopathy in those who consume dry fish on a regular basis, because petrol is toxic and tends to accumulate in your system,” he opined.