The risks of eating reptiles...

Some food intolerants may get so desperate that they are tempted to try a reptile (see Nicki Greenham’s trials with her crocodile steak…) but a study carried out for the World Health Organisation warns that eating reptiles (crocodiles, turtles, lizards or snakes) can also involve you in eating parasites, bacteria and viruses, and to a lesser extent heavy metals and residues of veterinary drugs – all of which could cause serious health problems.

Although there is little research and the data are inconclusive the researchers suggest that the clearest microbiological risk comes from the possible presence of pathogenic bacteria, especially Salmonella, and also Shigella, Escherichia coli, Yersinia enterolitica, Campylobacter, Clostridium and Staphylococcus aureus.

They advise that if you wish to eat reptile meat it should be frozen as this deactivates parasites. Industrial processing and thorough cooking can also kill off pathogens.

The Scientific Panel on Biological Risks of the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) provides independent scientific advice risks associated with eating reptile meat, particularly relevant because of the rise in the consumption of meats such as crocodiles, caimans, iguanas and pythons imported for the use of ethic communities.

Magnino et al. Biological risks associated with consumption of reptile products. International Journal of Food Microbiology, 2009; 134 (3): 163 DOI: 10.1016/j.ijfoodmicro.2009.07.001

Courtesy of Science Daily

First published October 2010

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