Foraging for seafood

 

A chara, – The article on “Foraging for dinner in a rock pool” (February 10th) was interesting. However, while it mentioned the hazards of slipping on wet rocks, etc, it made no mention of the greater dangers to health of consuming foraged seafood. This danger is particularly so given the regular pollution with raw sewage and septic tank effluent along large stretches of the Irish coastal environment. Walking along coastal areas of Dublin Bay, one can see many people, including restaurant workers, picking shellfish of various sorts, including periwinkles, cockles and mussels. The potential dangers from eating such foods, if they are not cooked properly, are very real, including serious illnesses like typhoid, cholera and shigella.

Indeed it shouldn’t be necessary to warn Dubliners of these dangers since our capital city’s anthem, Molly Malone, describes her occupational death from infection with either typhoid fever or cholera. The “Alive, alive oh” chorus of the song refers to the practice of keeping the shellfish alive, given the absence of refrigeration, until sold on the streets. Indeed it used to be a common practice in Irish coastal towns, and may well still be, to sell fresh uncooked periwinkles in paper bags along with pins to prise the meat from the shell.

The failure to protect people and our coastal environments from human and animal pollution is a national disgrace and should be an urgent priority for both the Environmental Protection Agency, Irish Water and all local councils. – Yours, etc,

Dr VINCENT KENNY,

Knocklyon,

Dublin 16.