Community in Canada advised not to eat beluga whale meat after woman dies

A community in Quebec, Canada have been advised by local officials not to eat beluga whale meat after a woman died and her daughter was taken seriously ill in Inukjuak.

Dr. Francoise Bouchard, the director of public health for the region, said both cases have been diagnosed as botulism.

"It is probably from beluga meat," said Dr Bouchard. Tests confirming the source have been carried out the local community has been told to keep clear of the frozen, dried or cooked meat. 

Botulism can cause severe vomiting, difficulty breathing and swallowing and overall weakness. It can also lead to complete paralysis and death.


Beluga whale at surface
Beluga whale at surface

High levels of pollutants like mercury, PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls) and PFCs (perfluorinated compounds) from the world’s oceans also end up in sea mammals like whales and dolphins, and are eaten in the Faroe Islands, Greenland, parts of Siberia as well as Canada. 

Recently, Chief Physician at the Department of Occupational Medicine and Public Health in the Faroes reiterated warnings to the country’s population not to eat whale meat due to the risks of developing Parkinson’s disease, hypertension, arteriosclerosis, and other medical issues caused by the contaminants in the meat and blubber.

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