Fish Sauce Benefits + Side Effects

By Adriane Marie •  Updated: 03/03/22 •  10 min read
fish sauce benefits and side effects

Health

Energy: fish sauce is good for / helps reduce tiredness and fatigue, nervous system and mental health

Longevity: fish sauce is bad for / increases the risk of high blood pressure, risk of heart complications and cardiovascular disease (due to extremely high salt quantities) | fish sauce is good for / helps gut health

Appearance: fish sauce is bad for / increases the risk of weight gain (extremely high in sodium) | fish sauce is good for / helps muscle, bone and teeth health

Fish sauce is…

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08/11/2022 06:08 pm GMT

Environment

Water footprint: unknown

Carbon footprint: likely high, 5.4 kg CO2e to produce 1 kilogram or 2.2 pounds of marine fish, a car driving equivalent of 12.5 miles or 20 kilometers

Destruction: high, marine ecosystems, discarded fishing nets pollute oceans, fishing damages coral, sponges and poses severe threat to marine habitats

Fish sauce is…

Animals

Kills: fish, usually anchovies, shrimp, mackerel, or other strong-flavored, high oil fish

Harms: fish, usually anchovies, shrimp, mackerel, or other strong-flavored, high oil fish, farmed fish spend their entire lives (up to two years) confined in tightly packed spaces, most farmed fish are predators and eat smaller fish, billions of wild fish must be caught in order to feed them, it can take several pounds of ocean fish to produce just one pound of farmed fish 

Indirectly kills or harms: sea-life, such as dolphins, sea turtles, protected fish, whales, seabirds etc. known as “bycatch”, unwanted marine life that unintentionally get caught, hooked and entangled in fishing nets

Fish sauce is…

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08/11/2022 12:13 pm GMT

Laborers

Health and safety: hazardous, fishing workers are at risk of accident, injury, and death, reports show 20% of workers and almost 50% of trafficked victims have been injured on the job, injuries include cuts, broken bone, lost fingers, hands and limbs, head injuries, electrocutions, workers get caught in machinery, get thrown overboard, deaths are reported, boat decks are slippery and in constant motion, there can be hazardous machinery present

Living conditions: poor, fishing boats often lack toilets, intensive labor, rapid exhaustion, workers are held at sea and work against their will, they load catch onto bigger, commercial fishing boats in exchange for food and supplies, seafood caught illegally from slave worker boats gets mixed in with legal, commercial fishing boats in order to remain undetected, boats filled with trafficked migrants do not dock, sometimes for years, keeping slave workers unseen, trapped at sea, continuing forced labor and abuse

continued…

fishing industries around the world are responsible for systematic, illegal, fishing practices, human rights abuse, fishing workers are vulnerable to human trafficking and slave labor, in countries like Thailand (the third largest seafood exporter in the world), Burma, Indonesia, and Fiji seafood slavery is a major issue for migrant workers originally from Myanmar, Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam, seafood consumed in the United States is mostly from foreign sources

Wages: low, recruiters promise well paying jobs to poor, unskilled and vulnerable laborers, recruiters trick migrants into thinking they must work to pay off their debts, referred to as “debt peonage”, and little to no compensation for their work is given for long periods and maybe even years and are paid below the minimum wage 

Fish sauce has…

Fish sauce is mainly produced in Vietnam and Thailand as well as Southeast Asian countries like Cambodia and the Philippines.

The world’s top fish sauce exporting country is USA, followed by Germany, Italy, UK, Japan, Thailand, Canada, Mexico, Netherlands and Spain.

Fish sauce is extremely high in sodium.

fish sauce is acidic.

acidic foods and alkaline diet benefits that improve ph levels

Is fish sauce alkaline or acidic?

Fish sauce is acidic.

When you eat food, it breaks down to an ash residue that can be neutral, acidic or alkaline. Minerals such as potassium, calcium, magnesium, sodium, zinc, silver, copper and iron produce an alkaline ash; whereas sulfur, phosphorus, chlorine and iodine, which are in meat, coffee, dairy and alcohol, leave an acid ash.

Going alkaline easier than ever with this: Acidic and Alkaline Foods List

fish sauce is naturally gluten free but some brands add wheat making fish sauce not gluten free.

glutinous foods have side effects but a gluten free diet can help

Is fish sauce gluten free?

Yes, fish sauce is naturally gluten free. However, some brands of fish sauce add wheat making it not gluten free.

While celiac disease may not be as rampant as many marketing trends lead us to believe, you may have a gluten sensitivity…

Celiac and gluten sensitivity symptoms are similar and may include:

There are hundreds of potential symptoms, many of which are also symptoms of other conditions.

Going gluten-free easier than ever with this: Gluten and Gluten Free Foods List

fish sauce contains a common food allergen: fish.

side effects of common food allergens like milk, wheat, soy, fish, tree nuts, peanuts, eggs and crustaceans

Is fish sauce a common food allergen?

Yes, fish sauce contains a common food allergen: fish. Many people experience allergic reactions to fish sauce.

A group of the eight major allergenic foods, AKA the Big-8, include:

Severe food allergies can be life threatening. Following ingestion of a food allergen, a person with food allergies can experience a severe, life-threatening allergic reaction called anaphylaxis. 

Persons may still be allergic to and have serious reactions to foods other than the eight foods identified by the law.

Be aware of common dietary restrictions and food allergens with this: The Big 8 Most Common Food Allergens List

fish sauce likely has a high carbon footprint.

carbon footprints of food and food emissions

Food not only has a water footprint but also a carbon footprint, known as CO2e, which stands for carbon dioxide equivalent. Since carbon measurements are a bit more difficult to comprehend, it is common to equate CO2e to the distance which a car drives in miles or kilometers.

When calculating carbon emissions, some factors may include…

But that’s not all!

It’s best to keep the following in mind when grocery shopping:

Find out how much carbon your food emits with this: Carbon Footprints of Foods and Ingredients List

fish sauce is unsustainable.

side effects of seafood, unsustainable food that pollutes oceans with plastic

Overall, is fish sauce eco friendly? Is fish sauce sustainable?

Fish sauce production is relatively unsustainable.

Whether farmed or wild caught, the seafood industry is environmentally destructive due to its direct impact on decreasing marine populations, polluting waters and habitat destruction.

Wild-caught fish and seafood is destructive due to overfishing (when populations die at a greater rate than they are able to replenish). Degraded ecosystems occur as a result and creates an imbalance that impacts important food chains. Consequently, vulnerable aquatic species like sea turtles and coral suffer. Scientists predict oceans will be fishless by 2048. Such a major loss in biodiversity would be catastrophic, as oceans regulate temperature and contribute to half of our oxygen on Earth.

There’s also an alarming amount of plastic pollution in our oceans. In fact, abandoned and lost fishing gear makes up more than 85% of all plastic pollution on sea mounts, ocean ridges and the sea floor. Nets, traps and hooks continue to kill marine life. According to Greenpeace, “Abandoned fishing nets kill and injure more than 100,000 whales, dolphins, seals and turtles each year”.

Fish farming, or aquafarming, is not a sustainable alternative. Not only do farmed fish need to be fed fish to eat (perpetuating a never-ending cycle of fishing) but waters become contaminated with antibiotics (to prevent disease that inevitably occurs with overcrowded fish confinements), pesticides, parasites and fish feces. The toxic water then spreads to waterways and oceans, polluting ecosystems and eventually killing off wild fish populations.

All of the aforementioned fishing practices occur in order to meet global demand. The obvious solution for protecting our Earth’s oceans and waterways, marine habitats, ecosystems and wildlife is for consumers to significantly reduce or eliminate their seafood demand entirely.

fish sauce is not vegan.

seafood and fish is not vegan

Is fish sauce vegan?

No, fish sauce is not vegan. Fish sauce is made from fish or krill (a small crustacean), the product of marine animals, therefore making it an animal-derived food. Fish or krill must be killed in order to produce fish sauce. 

Animals of factory farming are suffering. They live in horrific conditions that often include confinement, physical abuse and unnatural environments…so much so that they need to receive antibiotics to keep from getting ill or spreading disease. Growth hormones allow all kinds of animals to become fatter faster and live short lives.

Because we cannot see for ourselves how these animals live and what they endure does not mean it isn’t happening. The meat, poultry and dairy industries do everything they can to distance us from knowing how our food comes to be in order to keep us in the dark about what we support each time we buy animal derived products and byproducts.

Go vegan for animals!

It’s the best way to help animals and it’s not as difficult as you may think. Speak for animals with your actions, for they cannot speak at all.

Going vegan is easier than ever, at a glance with this: Vegan and Non-Vegan Foods List

fish sauce has labor issues and human rights concerns.

labor rights, human rights and workers rights issues for the fishing industry

Is fish sauce a product that has known labor issues?

Yes. There are reports of serious worker mistreatment regarding the seafood industry. Fish sauce is a product that has labor concerns.

There are high numbers of trafficked people promised work but then held at sea against their will. Boats filled with trafficked migrants do not dock, sometimes for years on end, keeping slave workers unseen and trapped at sea, continuing the forced labor. Recruiters trick migrants into thinking they must work to pay off their debts, referred to as “debt peonage”. There is little to no compensation for their work which is given for long periods -maybe even years. Seafood caught illegally from slave worker boats gets mixed in with legal, commercial fishing boats in order to remain undetected.

Fishing workers everywhere are at risk of accident, injury, and death. Injuries include cuts, broken bones, lost fingers, hands and limbs, head injuries and electrocutions. Workers get caught in machinery, get thrown overboard and deaths are reported. Boats are in constant motion, decks are slippery and there can be hazardous machinery present.

Fishing industries around the world are responsible for systematic, illegal fishing practices and human rights abuse. Fishing workers are vulnerable to human trafficking and slave labor, especially in countries like Thailand (the third largest seafood exporter in the world), Burma, Indonesia and Fiji. Seafood slavery is a major issue for migrant workers originally from Myanmar, Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam.

We improve lives around the world if we boycott problematic foods that are difficult for human rights authorities to regulate.

Sources:

fish sauce – FoodData Central

Fish sauce products and manufacturing: a review – PubAg

World Wide Fund for Nature: Overfishing

Animal equality: 4 WAYS THE FISHING INDUSTRY IS DESTROYING THE PLANET

Fish sauce is the saltiest offender of all asian sauces

Check your food: fish sauce

Adriane Marie

Self-proclaimed Grocery Guru, Material Maven and all around Conscious Consumer Connoisseur. I organize ethical info for us to comprehensively see how purchases impact people, animals and the planet. I hope you find HEALabel helpful and use it for personal and global improvement and empowerment.

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