Copper-bottomed guarantee for safe shellfish in restaurants

Sep 09, 2008

Putting brass where your money is could be a guarantee of safety according to researchers looking at the dangers of eating raw fish and shellfish in seafood restaurants, scientists heard today at the Society for General Microbiology's Autumn meeting being held this week at Trinity College, Dublin.

The Asian diet traditionally includes lots of raw fish and shellfish, and diners and restaurateurs are aware of the risks of food poisoning posed by contaminating bacteria. In Korea between 2003 and 2006 around 12% of food poisoning cases were due to a type of bacteria called Vibrio, whose family includes the microbe that causes cholera. Now Korean scientists have come up with a simple and effective way of making sure that shellfish is safe – put a brass plate at the bottom of the fish tank.

"We showed that copper ions diffuse out from a brass plate into a fish tank filled with seawater, and within 40 hours the copper killed 99.99% of the Vibrio food poisoning bacteria contaminating the living fish and shellfish," says Dr Jeong-Weon Huh from the Department of Health Research, at Gyeonggi-do Institute of Health and Environment, Republic of Korea.

The copper is absorbed by the bacteria, causing them to die and fall off the gills and skin of the fish. Vibrio are even flushed from the internal organs of the fresh fish, sinking to the bottom of the tank. The remaining copper ions are absorbed from the seawater in the tank by sand and polyester filters, leaving safe, clean fish ready to be eaten by restaurant diners.

"By being able to remove the copper ions, we can prevent people from consuming excess copper themselves, but let them safely enjoy any kind of fish, either raw or cooked," says Dr Jeong-Weon Huh.

Koreans have claimed for a long time that food served in a traditional bowl called a bangzza is safer to eat. Now the food researchers have proved the science behind the myth. The 78% copper and 22% tin mixture used to make the traditional bangzza kitchenware allows enough copper ions to escape into the food that pathogenic microbes are rendered harmless.

In countries with many people suffering from poor sanitation and hygiene, where cholera and other Vibrio bacteria are rife, it seems that this traditional cookware may be a lifesaver.

"We highly recommend that brass is used in restaurant fish tanks for consumer's safety. More people will be able to safely enjoy seafood, and the marine dealers will have a stable income," says Dr Jeong-Weon Huh.

Source: Society for General Microbiology

Explore further: Free the seed: OSSI nurtures growing plants without patent barriers

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Link confirmed between salmon migration, magnetic field

Feb 06, 2014

A team of scientists last year presented evidence of a correlation between the migration patterns of ocean salmon and the Earth's magnetic field, suggesting it may help explain how the fish can navigate across ...

Five edible insects you really should try

Sep 04, 2013

Edible insects are great alternatives to conventional sources of meat as they're cheap, plentiful and excellent sources of protein and fat, as well as vitamins and minerals.

More Grand Canyon condors die of lead poisoning

Apr 17, 2013

Lead ammunition continues to take a deadly toll on endangered California condors that live in and around the Grand Canyon. Seven of the 80 wild condors in Arizona and Utah have died since December; three of those deaths have ...

Recommended for you

Plants with dormant seeds give rise to more species

Apr 18, 2014

Seeds that sprout as soon as they're planted may be good news for a garden. But wild plants need to be more careful. In the wild, a plant whose seeds sprouted at the first warm spell or rainy day would risk disaster. More ...

Researchers successfully clone adult human stem cells

Apr 18, 2014

(Phys.org) —An international team of researchers, led by Robert Lanza, of Advanced Cell Technology, has announced that they have performed the first successful cloning of adult human skin cells into stem ...

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

fuchikoma
not rated yet Sep 10, 2008
I really don't want to sound racist, but since I've heard other "credible" S.Korean scientists explain how kimchi kills diseases like SARS, or how running an electric fan in a closed room removes all the oxygen, asphixiating the inhabitants (but only if they're Korean, some claim.)

This is a fascinating finding, but I'm going to wait for a little confirmation from the international scientific community before I put any weight behind it.

More news stories

Biologists help solve fungi mysteries

(Phys.org) —A new genetic analysis revealing the previously unknown biodiversity and distribution of thousands of fungi in North America might also reveal a previously underappreciated contributor to climate ...

Researchers successfully clone adult human stem cells

(Phys.org) —An international team of researchers, led by Robert Lanza, of Advanced Cell Technology, has announced that they have performed the first successful cloning of adult human skin cells into stem ...

NASA's space station Robonaut finally getting legs

Robonaut, the first out-of-this-world humanoid, is finally getting its space legs. For three years, Robonaut has had to manage from the waist up. This new pair of legs means the experimental robot—now stuck ...

Ex-Apple chief plans mobile phone for India

Former Apple chief executive John Sculley, whose marketing skills helped bring the personal computer to desktops worldwide, says he plans to launch a mobile phone in India to exploit its still largely untapped ...

Filipino tests negative for Middle East virus

A Filipino nurse who tested positive for the Middle East virus has been found free of infection in a subsequent examination after he returned home, Philippine health officials said Saturday.

Egypt archaeologists find ancient writer's tomb

Egypt's minister of antiquities says a team of Spanish archaeologists has discovered two tombs in the southern part of the country, one of them belonging to a writer and containing a trove of artifacts including reed pens ...

Airbnb rental site raises $450 mn

Online lodging listings website Airbnb inked a $450 million funding deal with investors led by TPG, a source close to the matter said Friday.