Consumer Awareness of Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbon Contaminants in Smoked Fish in Senegal
Fish is an important contributor to the Senegalese economy and diet, with Senegal having one of the highest consumption rates of fish in Africa (29 kg/person/year according to a 2017-2018 study by the National Agency of Statistics in Senegal (ANSD)). It serves as an important protein source for many because of its low cost and high availability. Due to its perishable nature, fish are commonly processed after capture to increase the longevity of products. In 2018, over 38,924 tons of fish were processed in Senegal, worth an estimated $47,523,252. As with any food product, fish consumption comes with an associated risk of potential contamination. Foodborne pathogens undermine the health and well-being of hundreds of millions of people across the globe each year. Inadequate food handling practices and poor infrastructure across supply chains increase health risks to consumers, in addition to being root causes of preconsumer loss and waste in the overall food system. Seafood products are no exception to these vulnerabilities, whether fresh or processed.
In the spring of 2020, Feed the Future Business Drivers for Food Safety (BD4FS) undertook a Food Safety Situational Analysis (FSSA) of the artisanal seafood sector in Senegal and confirmed that traditional smoking of fish remains a common practice among artisanal processors and that consumer awareness of the potential health hazards was thought to be low. To further investigate this food safety concern, BD4FS conducted an in-depth literature review, which focused on the health risks associated with consuming smoked products, the different types of smokers and the levels of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) produced by each smoker, and the costs and financing options for adopting modern smokers that produce lower PAH levels.