Egypt warns kidney patients against consuming fesikh, renga in Eid

Ahram Online , Monday 8 Apr 2024

As Eid Al-Fitr approaches, the Ministry of Health has seriously warned kidney patients to refrain from consuming fesikh and renga fish (traditional Egyptian dishes known for their high salt content).

File Photo: A customer buys some Fesikh ( Grey mullets fishes which are pickled fermented and dried) from a store. Photo courtesy of AFP.


As Egyptians prepare for Eid celebrations, many have already purchased fesikh and renga, preparing to enjoy during the feast.

Fesikh, a fermented mullet dish, and renga, a smoked herring delicacy, hold a long-standing popularity in Egypt, dating back to pharaonic times.

Although many health experts highly warn against both dishes, fesikh poses a greater risk due to its preparation process using unmeasurable salt quantities and lasts for weeks.

Fesikh’s preparation involves drying uncooked mullet under the sun and submerging it in containers filled with highly concentrated salty water for several weeks.

The excessive salt in these fish can be particularly hazardous for individuals with high blood pressure and kidney diseases.

The ministry warns that high salt levels can lead to fluid retention in the body, potentially causing breathing difficulties and even heart attacks.

Over the years, the ministry has consistently campaigned against consuming these two dishes, even when prepared at home, due to the potential formation of anaerobic bacteria.

This kind of bacteria can release toxins that cause botulism — a rare but serious condition.

Botulism can progressively weaken the muscles, starting with facial muscles, and may even affect the muscles involved in breathing, potentially leading to fatalities.

Moreover, the ministry ensured that botulism antitoxin serum is available in all its medical facilities and toxicology departments within university hospitals.

Boosting vigilance at Eid

In case of poisoning emergencies, the health ministry urges individuals to contact its emergency numbers: 137 and 16474.

Eid Al-Fitr this year comes only one month before the upcoming national festival of Sham El-Nessim on 6 May, which also sees a significant increase in the consumption of fesikh and renga at both homes and public areas.

In a statement on Sunday, the health ministry emphasized the continuous operation of its central emergency services room, through hotline number 137, which promptly refers poisoning cases to nearby hospitals.

Furthermore, the ministry has directed primary healthcare facilities, preventive medicine rooms, and ambulance services to keep alert throughout the Eid celebrations.

Additionally, 2,394 ambulances and 11 river ambulance launches will be strategically stationed around main roads, parks, gardens, and mosques to ensure swift emergency response, it added.

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