Food Laws of Clean or Unclean Food

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The Food Laws (No. 15)

(Edition 2.0 19940409-19990309)

The Food Laws are examined from a scientific point of view and are validated as being correct and as important or more important today as they were when they were issued. They are vital to the correct and environmentally sound operation of the planet.

Christian Churches of God

(Copyright ã 1994, 1997, 1999 Wade Cox)

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The Food Laws
Deuteronomy 14:1-3 1 Ye are the children of the Lord your God: ye shall not cut yourselves, nor make any baldness between your eyes for the dead.

2 For thou art an holy people unto the Lord thy God, and the Lord hath chosen thee to be a peculiar people unto himself, above all the nations that are upon the earth. 3 Thou shalt not eat any abominable thing.


For centuries man has developed eating habits and consumed creatures around him on an availability basis. He has developed tastes and sometimes it seems that the more exotic the foods, the more desirable they seem and are more keenly sought.


The concept of restricted dietary habits is not a new thing and stems from the most ancient of civilisations and often given a religious symbolism.


The Bible contains, at Leviticus 11 and Deuteronomy 14, specific rules or laws regarding which foods may be eaten; how the animals are to be killed; how their bodies may be disposed of; and also, what parts of those animals may not be eaten, e.g. the fat and the blood. The terminology of the Bible is that of clean and unclean meats and so this terminology is continued.


Throughout the centuries, many peoples have attempted to debunk the validity of the biblical food laws or treat them as applying only to the Jews, or as done away with by the New Testament. Some biblical rationalists have even argued that the food laws were done away with at Acts 10 despite the clear intention of the message and the explanation at chapter 11. Its specific symbolism is for the admission of the Gentiles to the Church and in fact reinforces the validity of the food laws. The passage at Acts 15 is also used to argue the cessation of the food laws.


These food laws have been kept by the Churches of God continually and this phenomenon has been commented on by the most eminent scholars. During the Spanish Inquisition, one of the ways of detecting so called heretics of the Church of God was by their obedience to the food laws (see C. Roth The Spanish Inquisition). Jews and Muslims were also included in this category and many were put to death.


The prophet Mohammed restated the requirement of the food laws. He made a specific dispensation for the desert tribes to be able to eat camel (previously unclean) provided it was butchered in a specific way. Mohammed stated that what was lawful for Jews to eat was lawful for Moslems and vice versa. Unfortunately, he did not restate the food laws but merely issued a food proscription similar to Acts 15 with the specific mention of swine flesh and the general term of carrion so that, from this, later Islam came to ignore the food laws except for these broader guidelines. Anthropologists and students of Comparative Religion have examined the food laws from the point of view of ritual taboos of a more primitive and unenlightened culture. Some assume that they had some hygiene relevance but are no longer relevant today with improved hygiene standards. Others view them as baseless taboos and attempt to classify them on this basis.


One such work by Mary Douglas (Purity and Danger, London, 1966) has led to the inclusion of dietary laws in the classification of taboos within a magical framework of primitive religions. She argues that the only sound approach to viewing these laws is to:

forget hygiene, aesthetics, morals and instinctive revulsion, even to forget the Canaanites and the Zoroastrian Magi and start with the texts. Since each of the injunctions is prefaced by the command to be holy, so they must be explained by that command. There must be contrariness between holiness and abomination which make overall sense of all the particular restrictions.


Lesser and Vogt state that she argues that the abominations are animals that appear anomalous in the classification of natural things handed down by God in Genesis. By avoiding what in nature challenges God’s order, man confirms that order. Through a dietary observance, God is made holy – separate and whole (Lesser & Vogt Reader in Comparative Religion, 4th Ed., Ch. An Anthropological Approach, Harper and Row, 1979, pp. 149-152).


Unfortunately, neither Mary Douglas nor Lesser & Vogt bothered to examine the matter outside the narrow confines of anthropology. They did not test the laws for simple hygiene and health effects. The command to be holy was looked at in the form of taboos rather than the maintenance of a healthy body as the Temple of God which is the clear biblical reason. They just did not do their homework because, contrary to Douglas’ opinion that the food laws are mere taboos based on locomotor functions and the blind acceptance by anthropologists and academics of comparative religion of this assertion, they are in fact demonstrable rules for the selection of those foods which maintain the body in a healthy condition and minimise toxins and disease. Every single one is a demonstrable fact. The worst accusation that can be levelled at an academic can be made against these anthropologists. They were not only wrong, they were wilfully ignorant.


This work looks at the food laws in Leviticus 11 and Deuteronomy 14 with a systematic analysis of each category in the light of the most recent scientific research conducted in each category. Some of the research has been done over many years, some is new and some is the result of recent examination of older data.




The first general prohibition is found at Genesis 9:4.

But the flesh with the life thereof, which is the blood thereof, shall ye not eat.


The blood of both man and beast is the life of them and is required of the Lord. It is to be poured out on the ground. From Genesis 9:3 it is established that:

the moving things that liveth shall be meat for you.

and, from this, some argue that anything that moved could be eaten. However the meaning of this is quite clear from the preceding chapters where Noah was told at Genesis 7:2:

of every clean beast thou shalt take to thee by sevens, the male and his female, and of the beasts that are not clean by two, the male and his female.


These categories were in operation before the flood and even from Adam where Cain was a farmer and Abel was a shepherd. Abel’s sacrifice was more acceptable to the Lord than Cain’s.



From Leviticus 7:22 we are told:

And the Lord spoke to Moses saying. speak unto the children of Israel, saying , ye shall eat no manner of fat, of ox, or of sheep, or of goat.

And the fat of the beast that dieth of itself, and the fat of that which is torn with beasts may be used in any other use, but ye shall in no wise eat of it.


From verse 25 we find that the punishment is to be cut off from the people. From verse 26 we are told:

Moreover ye shall eat no manner of blood, whether it be of fowl or of beast in any of your dwellings.


From Leviticus 17:10 a similar punishment is levied for consumption of blood and this law is extended to the aliens within Israel as well as those native born. The blood is to be poured out upon the ground and covered with dust or dirt.


In addition to utilising the fats for domestic purposes such as soap and candles, the fat was burnt as a sweet savour or incense type of offering.


The fat was trimmed from all meat and was never eaten. This, of course, now makes perfect sense and is a recommended prevention against heart disease through increased cholesterol and triglyceride levels arising from fat consumption – something we now take for granted, but only recently.


From Leviticus 17:15 the prohibition is issued against eating anything that dies of itself or is not killed or that which is torn by beasts. This regulation prevents a series of diseases transmitted from the corpse of dead animals of necropsy or by wound infections. There is a significant number of such transmissible diseases (see the section Diseases Transmitted from Animals to Man). The requirements of hygiene on contamination were of washing and separation until evening. These are now commonsense hygiene precautions.


Identification of Clean Animals

Whatsoever parteth the hoof and is cloven footed, and cheweth the cud, among the beasts, that shall ye eat.

These two distinctions, i.e. a cloven hoof and a cud chewer, were the marks of the clean ruminants. Some animals chewed the cud but did not have cloven hoofs like the camel, the coney and the hare. This family down to the rabbit is unclean. It is noted, however, that Mohammed gave dispensation to the desert tribes to eat camel under certain conditions. This is the only known alteration to the food laws amongst the descendants of Abraham. The fact that they are largely ignored and Islam limits the application of the term carrion thereby eating any abomination save swine and land carnivores does not affect their existence and relevance.



The swine is the reverse of the distinction in that it has a cloven hoof but is not a cud chewer. Of all the world’s animals, the pig is regarded as one of the most unclean. The general prohibition on all swine flesh is probably also the most broken. People have the tendency to excuse their consumption now as a basis of "Oh well, that was then when there was poor hygiene. Nowadays with improved health regulations and refrigeration it does not apply." But the facts are that it very much does apply. The consumption of swine flesh is an Assyrian and Babylonian predilection and they and the Celts took it with them into Europe.


Recent research into swine flesh has led to some amazing results. Firstly, the swine is easily the most involved of all the animals in the transmission of infectious diseases to man. No other animal is comparable.


There is, however, one aspect of swine flesh consumption, which stands out above all the rest and is of such a type that no amount of hygiene or sterilisation or disease control will eliminate. This aspect is the causal relationship between swine flesh and cirrhosis of the liver. On 23 March 1985 Lancet, at pages 681-683, published the findings of Drs. Amin A. Nanji and Samuel W. French on the Relationship Between Pork Consumption and Cirrhosis. These eminent liver specialists found, by analysing statistics over 16 countries (concerning the effects of alcohol, pork, beef and fat consumption) that the correlation between cirrhosis mortality and the product of ethanol and pork consumption for the 16 countries was highly significant. However, when the study was restricted to 7 countries with a narrow range of alcohol consumption (7.5 - 11.01 caput/yr) and a wide range of cirrhosis mortality (2-18 deaths/100,000), the correlation between cirrhosis mortality and alcohol consumption was not significant. In contrast, the correlation between pork consumption and cirrhosis mortality for the same 7 countries was highly significant.


From 1970s data they were able to conclude that the correlation between alcohol consumption and mortality for 11 countries was 0.54 compared to the correlation between pork consumption and cirrhosis mortality per 100,000 for the same 11 countries at 0.89. They concluded that the correlation between pork consumption and mortality from cirrhosis was highly significant. This correlation was especially impressive in the countries with a relatively low per caput consumption of alcohol (<10 p/caput/yr) and low correlation between alcohol consumption and cirrhosis. The population of these countries has a low carrier rate for hepatitis B virus, thus excluding infectious hepatitis as an explanation for the difference in cirrhosis mortality.


Of major significance were the statistics for the Scandinavian countries (Norway, Sweden and Finland). In 1978, alcohol consumption in these countries was among the lowest in Europe. The mortality rate from cirrhosis for 1978 was directly related to per caput pork consumption in these countries. In Canada, the mortality from cirrhosis in each province also correlated with pork consumption but not with alcohol intake. They concluded that:

How pork might cause or enhance cirrhosis is unknown. The fat content of beef and pork is similar (they are apparently talking of high fat beef or non range fed beef) but pork contains more linoleic acid than beef.


We have shown that the amount of pork consumed correlates strongly with mortality from cirrhosis. We are impressed enough by the strength of the correlation between cirrhosis mortality and the product of alcohol and pork consumption to speculate that pork may be the facilitating factor suggested by Beazell and Ivy. (This was a report on the Influence of alcohol on the digestive tract published in Quart J Studies Alcohol, 1940, 1:45-73).


It appears that the high incidence of cirrhosis among alcoholics is due to a facilitation by alcohol of the effect of some as yet undetermined substance. (p. 683).

These doctors have demonstrated the undetermined facilitating factor speculated in 1940 by Beazell and Ivy; isolating this substance to be contained within the flesh of swine. Its very composition renders the problem, and this is one of the reasons why the swine is outlawed. When the term pork is used, it refers to all swine products – bacon and sausages containing pig meat as well. It is worth noting that cirrhosis of the liver is a problem amongst Indian children of Hindu background who consume no alcohol but consume pork rather than beef. The conclusions are that alcohol by itself is not a cause of cirrhosis of the liver. However, with pork consumption the incidence is high and alcohol and pork together appear to be a serious danger.


It took until 1985 for the human race to finally demonstrate what Moses was told by the Eternal at Sinai. The pig is unclean to you. Of their flesh shall ye not eat and their carcass shall ye not touch: they are unclean to you.



The clean animals include not only the various species of cattle, sheep and goats, but also all of the forms of deer and gazelle, even to the giraffe – all of the buffalo and the grazing herds generally. The horse and its species such as the ass and the zebra are unclean. Virtually everything else is unclean including all of the reptiles, the rodents and the weasels and ferrets.


However, there are various forms of locusts and grasshoppers which are clean to eat and these are found at Leviticus 11:22 if you feel so inclined. Grasshoppers are quite palatable roasted over an open fire until crisp and taste rather like nuts. The details of these types can be found in Leviticus and Deuteronomy.



The clean birds are of the family of chicken, turkey, pigeon and dove – such as have a crop. The prohibition on the swan family arising from Leviticus 11:18 of the King James Version is an error from the Hebrew word teshemet which does not mean swan but rather refers to both a water hen and a species of owl – various other authorities translate it either way. The duck and goose and also the swan are clean birds.


Most of the other birds are not clean. The lists are at Leviticus 11:13-20. Generally, all birds of prey and carrion eaters like vultures, eagles, hawks and owls together with all of the pelicans, storks, herons and those forms of birds are unclean. This appears to be because the enzymes in these birds are used to deal with the food chain upon which they depend and which enzymes the human body cannot tolerate.


We are finding more and more about the transmission of viral diseases amongst the unclean birds and it appears that these are being passed into the clean birds, namely the duck in areas like Hong Kong where intensive raising is closely associated with migratory bird stopovers around the Hong Kong area. The outbreaks of influenza from Asia, namely the types of Hong Kong flu have been traced to this source. The clean birds generally are free from this problem but, under these types of conditions not found elsewhere, the clean birds may become susceptible. The rule, however, generally applies. The general hygiene rules for contamination are also contained in Leviticus 11.


Diseases Transmitted from Animals to Man

This section isolates the disease types and their transmission to man by animal types and by individual animals. The various types, the animals they involve and the means of distribution demonstrate the validity of the food law distinctions.


Summary of diseases by categories of infections

Gram Negative Bacteria

Ten of these 13 diseases involve ruminants or clean animals; one involves fish and shell fish (i.e. Vibriosis). Of the ten involving ruminants, only two sub-categories involve ruminants (classified clean animals solely) and only one of these is attributable to ingestion and then only probably. This is Vibriosis (from Vibrio tetus). The other is from infection by Pasteurella haemolytica forming Pasteurellosis and is found in Britain and the USA. This disease is controlled by the blood handling prohibition. Of the other disease categories, some are so broad as to involve all mammals and birds. The majority are concentrated on the prohibited animal types, with the exception of Brucellosis and Salmonellosis. Brucellosis is contracted by occupational exposure and ingestion of contaminated milk products or other foods. Salmonella serotypes of the Aryonia group are well known worldwide and are spread by ingestion or airborne contact. These diseases occur in the unclean categories, the former in swine and horses, the latter in swine and pets.


Gram Positive Bacteria and Actinomycetes

All 14 disease types can involve clean (or permitted) animals or birds as some of the categories involved are so broad as to involve all mammals and all fish and birds. Only two sub-categories are confined to permitted or clean animals, in this case cattle, and both are transmitted by wound infection (Malignant Edema and Actinomycosis). The other groups include the following diseases:

Anthrax: Which is spread by occupational exposure and airborne or biting anthropoids. It can only be ingested by eating contaminated meat, which is visible and covered by other prohibitions within the food laws.


Clostridial food poisoning and Gas Gangrene: These occur in mammals or fish and mammals or birds respectively. Only the former is spread by ingestion. This is minimised by the general health and handling laws.


Corynebacterial infections: These are spread by contact and also by ingestion or wound infection.


The other diseases are Staphylococcosis; Streptococcosis and Tuberculosis: These are widespread amongst clean and unclean animals and the handling legislation, both biblical and scientific, minimises the risks of these diseases.


Infections Caused by Rickettsioses and Spirochetes

There are nine disease types caused by Rickettsioses and of these only two types involve clean animals amongst others, i.e. mammals. The first type, Chlomydiosis, is transmitted by airborne means, contact or occupational exposure. The second, Q fever, is mainly airborne or by ticks on occasion. Milk could be a vehicle although this is conjectural.


Of the two types of Spirochetes, i.e. Endemic Relapsing fever and Leptospirosis, both can be transmitted to clean animals. The first by infected ticks and body lice and the second by occupational contact or immersion in water, i.e. swelling or infecting the beast. They are primarily rodent borne however and compliance with the food laws and routine water sterilisation prevents this type of disease.


Mycotic Infection

Of the twelve types of Mycotic infections, from Ringworm to Candidiasis Cryptococcoses, Geotrichosis Piedra etc., none are confined to clean animals and all are predominantly transferred by contact in nature – directly or by fomites or breaks in the skin. The biblical food laws and handling prohibitions minimise these forms of infections also.


Parasitic Nematodes

Of the thirteen types of infections caused by Parasitic Nematodes, only three can involve clean animals and one involves clean fish (i.e. Anisaleiasis from the consumption of raw or partially cooked fish). In the cases where clean animals are involved, only Trichostrongylosis is confined to domestic and wild herbivores from the ingestion of contaminated vegetation and is controlled by normal stock management. The other two, Strongyloidiasis and Ancylostomiasis, involve the penetration of the skin by infected larvae. The first type can be ingested but these both are predominantly diseases of dogs and cats. In the first case, they extend also to primates and rodents. The incidence in clean animals is limited and the food laws and handling prohibitions minimise the danger of these infections. Some of these diseases (e.g. Trichinosis and Ascariasis) are transmitted by the ingestion of offal by unclean animals, particularly swine.


Parasitic Trematodes and Cestodes

Of the eleven diseases caused by Parasitic Trematodes, only one type Fascioliasis (with which are two sub-types caused by Fascida hepatica and f. gigantica) affect cattle, sheep and goats. Both of these are controlled by stock management and correct handling legislation. Eight of these diseases affect the swine, either singularly or with other vermin.


Of the nine types of Cestodes, only two involve clean animals and one involves clean birds. The first type is the Beef Tapeworm and is transmitted by the ingestion of measly beef and is prevented by correct inspection and biblical handling requirements (a similar organism, the Taenia Solium, infects the pig and is responsible also for dog auto-infection). The second disease, Hydatidosis, affects dog, sheep, cattle, swine and deer and is transmitted by the ingestion of embryophores. It is controlled by disposal of offal and correct handling within biblical legislation and inspection. The third category, Sparganosis, involves the chicken through the ingestion or contact with the flesh of infected animals. This is caused by the Pseudophyllidea Tapeworm and is predominantly in monkeys, cats, swine, weasels, rats – spreading also to chickens, snakes, frogs and mice. Again, the food laws minimise this type of disease.


Parasitic Protozoa

Of the thirteen types of infections caused by Parasitic Protozoa, only four could possibly affect clean animals. The first is Sleeping Sickness caused by the bite of the tsetse fly and is confined to Africa. The second, Piroplasmosis, is caused by the bite of infected ticks and is general to wild and domestic animals. The last two, Sarcosporidiosis and Toxoplasmosis, affect birds and mammals – the latter affecting especially cats. The biblical food laws and handling legislation minimises this disease also.



DNA Viruses. Of the six DNA Viruses, four affect clean animals but are transmissible by contact or occupational exposure. These included Cowpox, Pseudo-Cowpox, Bovine Papular Stomatitis and Contagious Ecthyma.


Viruses. Of the ten RNA viruses, only two affect clean animals, and two affect birds. All are transmitted by contact and occupational exposure. Newcastle Disease in fowls is well known and controlled by biblical regulations. Foot and Mouth Disease is not confined to cattle and is also controlled by the food laws etc. Interestingly, Influenza is spread by swine, horses and birds. The duck (as a clean bird) has proven to be a host in close conditions in Asia particularly Hong Kong. Vesicular Stomatitis is also a disease of mammals and is transmitted by ingestion and, hence, carnivores are more prone to this disease.


Unclassified Viruses. Of the three unclassified viruses, none are found in clean animals.


Infection Caused by Mosquito-borne Arboviruses

Of the thirty-one types of these diseases, only two involve clean animals and three involving domestic birds could involve clean birds. The first category is Rift Valley Fever, which affects sheep, goats and cattle. It is confined to Africa and is transmitted by mosquito bite; contact on necropsy or handling fresh meat. The handling regulations minimise this disease. The second is Wesselbron infection confined to Southern Africa and is transmitted by the Aedes mosquito. The bird categories involve western and eastern Equine Encephalomyelitis and also involve St Louis Encephalitis. The clean animal categories appear to be significantly less affected by these diseases than the unclean and further demonstrate the validity of the divisions with Leviticus 11 and Deuteronomy 14.


Parasitic Infestations and Reactions

Annelid diseases are found in Africa and Asia amongst cattle and buffalo and are caused by direct contact with a leech.


Of the Arthropid diseases, tongue worm is found in sheep and goats as well as dogs, snakes and lizards and is prevented by not eating this form of offal or by inspection. Another disease of clean animals is Tick Paralysis but not affecting man, is not specific to the food laws. Myiosis is spread by the invasion of living tissue by fly larvae and, therefore, not affected by the food laws although all mammals are involved.



Leviticus 11:9 These shall ye eat of all that are in the waters: whatsoever hath fins and scales in the waters, in the seas and in the rivers; them shall ye eat.

Leviticus 11:10 And all that have not fins and scales in the seas; and in the rivers; of all that move in the waters, and of any living thing which is in the water, they shall be an abomination unto you.

To understand the reasons behind the fish food laws, we need to examine a series of natural phenomena and consider how the law limits the effects on humans.


The incidence of heavy metals and naturally occurring poisons distribute themselves throughout the food chain in a number of ways. Whilst these heavy metals are naturally occurring, they, like pollutants generally, are distributed more and more universally and are entering the food chain in all areas. Because of their place in the food chain and their very nature and metabolism, some sea species are more prone to pollutants than others and some have a higher propensity to pass on pollutants than others.


One source of poisoning in marine life is mercury. Whilst its levels are fixed in total global amounts, its concentrations, its capacity to be transported in some forms and its capacity for transformation from inorganic to more toxic forms in the environment render it a hazard. The levels of mercury in the oceans is at least 70 million tonnes and recent examination of the Greenland ice cap indicates that there has been no increase in mercury levels in historical times (Applequist et al., 1978).


It appears that there is a normal background or base level of 11.2 ng/kg in the world’s oceans, with the near surface levels in the northern hemisphere having readings up to 33.5 ng/kg, probably due to atmospheric fallout from industrial pollution.


Industrial usage of mercury is in a variety of industries with mining and smelting increasing at about 2% per annum from 1973, although reducing from recycling etc. The release of mercury into the environment occurs also from supplementary activities such as fossil fuels, steel, cement and phosphate production and the smelting and extraction of metals, especially their sulphide ores (WHO, 1976). Part of these emissions at least is dispersed broadly into the oceans (Gardner, 1975, 1978).


Mercury finds its way into the food chain due to methylation of inorganic mercury in the sediments of lakes, rivers and other waterways and in all oceans. Methyl-mercury accumulates in aquatic organisms according to trophic level and the highest concentrations are found in the large carnivorous fish. (This was established in the Report on Mercury in Fish and Fish Products, Australian Department of Primary Industry, 1979, Australian Government Publishing Service, 1980. Section 2.4(III) of the report and comments on p. 28 demonstrate this point).


According to the report, it is considered that mercury is most frequently taken up in the methylated form by aquatic organisms. Methylation occurs by chemical means (a non-enzymatic process mediated by methyl-cobalamin and by sediment micro organisms such as bacteria and fungi (Mason et al., 1974) [emphasis added], in both aerobic and anaerobic conditions (Jensen and Jernelov, 1974), the rate of methylation dependent upon the particular micro-organisms present (Hartung, 1973) and various physio-chemical factors. Methylation is promoted when there is an alkaline ph and a high organic content in the sediment (Matsumura et al., 1972), and also when the temperature is elevated (Jernelov, 1972a). It follows, therefore, that increase in world and sea temperature will increase the toxicity of the marine environment.


This process of methylation is balanced in nature by methylation inhibiting methogenic bacteria (Alston et al., 1972). A wide range of bacteria appears to be capable of demethylation, although all are anaerobes and pseudomonas species appear to predominate (Shariat et al., 1979). These are all quoted in the Department of Primary Industries (DPI) report. According to the report, there are two possible pathways for the uptake of available mercury by aquatic organisms; firstly, via the food web and, secondly, by direct extraction of methyl-mercury from the aqueous medium (DPI Report, p. 30).


Bacteria compete very effectively with sediment in accumulating mercuric ions from river water, having a significant effect on the mobilisation of mercury from the sediment sink into the food chain (Ramamoorthy et al., 1977). Mercury is taken up, however, higher into the food chain through ingestion or organic detritus complexed with mercury. Uptake direct by filter feeders such as oysters, barnacles and clams appears common (Guthrie et al., 1979) (from DPI Report, p. 30) [emphasis added].


The complexity of the food web is a major limiting factor on the amount of mercury accumulated (Peterson et al., 1973), and the organisms at higher trophic levels tend to accumulate more mercury. It has been suggested that the food web will contribute mercury to fish to a certain base level and, above this level, mercury is accumulated directly from the water body (Jernelov, 1972b). Direct extraction of mercury from the water body is possible by its affinity for aniotic groups, especially the sulphydryl groups of proteins (Lofroth, 1970). Uptake could be either directly through the skin or via the gills. In trout at least, uptake is primarily via the gills as the skin has been demonstrated to be relatively impermeable (Olson et al., 1973). The rate of uptake is probably a function of both the concentration of mercury in the water body, its form and the metabolic rate of the fish concerned (DPI Report, pp. 30-31).


Both inorganic and organic mercury are readily absorbed from seawater. Retention of the two forms from food is dissimilar in that methyl-mercury, in contrast to inorganic mercury, is only slowly eliminated. No evidence was obtained for methylation of the tracer in inorganic mercury obtained from seawater. The main result, according to the report, was the pinpointing of direct uptake of methyl-mercury from the water as the most important subjects for further study.


The report also stated that, once taken up into the blood stream, mercury is then differentially distributed within the body (see section 2.4(IV) of the report and notes on p. 31).


Studies conducted in 1978 (Hall et al.) on the incidence of heavy metals in seafood measured a wide variety of trace elements in 204 species of finfish, mollusca and crustacea from 198 sites around the USA coast, representing 93% by volume of that country’s commercial and sport fish catches, whilst a mean mercury level in excess on 0.5 ng/kg was found in only 2% of the catch intended for human consumption and these were; a snapper (Lutjanus compechanus) and a rock fish together with the Pacific Halibut Hippoglossis stenolepis.


In Europe, of the 12 freshwater fish listed, pike had the highest average and maximum (1.6 ng/kg) levels. These results were similar in Sweden.


The DPI Report stated on page 32 that The highest values of mercury are usually seen in those fish at the end of a long food chain, such as the large carnivorous species. These included the shark (unclean fish), swordfish and tuna (a clean fish). The salmon appears to have low levels of mercury with most values of some 260 samples of Atlantic Ocean, Canadian and Baltic Sea salmon close to 0.05 ng/kg. Recent reports indicate that mercury levels in most oceanic fish fall in the range of 0 - 0.5 ng/kg, with most values close to 0.15 ng/kg nett weight (from 1,600 samples). The most important examples being swordfish, tuna fish and halibut.


Japan has a present mercury standard for most species of 0.4 ng/kg. Deep-sea fishes had higher mercury concentration than fish of the continental shelf. Shark and tuna have the highest mean levels in Japanese marine waters. The USA has increased its action level from 0.5 ng/kg to 1.0 ng/kg. This is probably the result of economic pressure.


One aspect of the DPI Report that is of great interest is that the clean species, e.g. the tuna, inhibit the availability of mercury by the suppressing action of the chemical selenium. Selenium levels in fish are generally reported as below 1.0 ng/kg.

In Norwegian (i.e. N.E. Atlantic) cod and halibut, for example, levels did not exceed 0.15 ng/kg (Egaas & Braekkan, 1977a). However, levels in shell fish are generally higher, with values up to 4 ng/kg in lobster and 2 ng/kg in molluscs being reported (DPI Report, p. 51).

Selenium levels in the larger predatory fish, such as tuna and swordfish, are very high. In swordfish, levels of selenium range from 0.79 to 4.84 ng/kg in muscle with a mean value of 2.18 ng/kg. These values appear to be related to size and mercury level (Friedman et al., 1978). Fish have more mercury than any other single food.


The toxic effects of selenium are counterbalanced by the effect of arsenic, which is widely distributed in fish, and particularly shellfish tissues (Hall et al., 1978). Shuomi et al., 1984, show that arsenic and its chemical forms in shellfish are directly related to their feeding habits. Bivalves and herbivorean gastropods are below 10 ppni in most specimens. In contrast, the arsenic content in muscles of carnivorous gastropods had a significantly higher mean value, ranging from 16.8 ppni to 67.9 ppni. This is necessary to neutralise the mercury and selenium levels concentrated in its prey. This should also demonstrate the unsuitability of even the herbivorous gastropods and bivalves for human consumption.


As a general observation, the unclean species of seafood, such as crustaceans and molluscs, are the first source of heavy metals poisoning in the food chain and are most susceptible to pollutants. To counterbalance toxicity in their environment, they have greater levels of other toxic substances, such as selenium and arsenic. Their suitability for human consumption is reduced because of their retention of toxic substances at high levels in their tissue. The only substances to equal them are amongst the largest carnivorous fish at the other end of the food chain.


The unclean species of fish, such as shark, lack the counterbalancing chemical selenium which enables the fish to be fit for human consumption. The clean fish on the other hand contain balanced levels of detoxifying agents, such as selenium and arsenic, which minimises the impact on the human species.


As a general rule, the clean species of fish do not have high levels of toxic substances. Only in the larger carnivorous species are these levels present, but with balancing chemicals, which limit the toxic effects on the human body. The smaller clean fish are clearly the most free from toxic substances and, therefore, the most advantageous to diet.



In the shell fish, very high levels of toxic substances are found with a different level of balance to that found in the large clean species. The shellfish, molluscs, etc. also contain high levels of cholesterol which promote heart disease. This, together with heavy metal take up in vegetable matter, makes such a diet a high heart risk.


The food laws, therefore, are complex but verifiable rules for the human consumption of aquatic species. Using hair and blood samples to measure mercury in humans, it appears that where food laws are disregarded, levels of mercury can reach 27 ng/kg in hair on a consumption of 780 grams per week, and blood levels of 0.038 mg/litre for consumption of 2,000 grams of fish and seafood per week.


In the DPI study, no significant relationship was found between mercury level in hair and blood unlike some other works. These levels can be rapidly corrected by adjusting the diet to lesser contaminated species, i.e. obeying the food laws.


Fish Poisoning

There are some 300 species which have been known to cause outbreaks of fish poisoning. Almost all are unclean varieties. Some, however, are of the clean varieties. The parrot fish, found in tropical waters, is poisonous during most of the year; in other waters it is not. The toxin emanates from the liver all year except for April to June in lethal potency to mice (Fusitani et al., 1985). The snapper and perch etc. can become sporadically poisonous in certain localities. These should be noted, but this is not general by any means. Of the 84 species in the fish catch at St Thomas in the Carribean, 50% of these totalling 56% of the catch bear some risk of intoxification if eaten (Olsen et al., 1984).


As the pollution and heavy metal levels increase, the levels of toxicity in all species of fish will rise, making the food laws more and more important. At the other end of the line, however, a point will be reached when all types of fish cannot sustain life. This may not be all that far off.


Algae, etc.

The presence of red algae appears to be increasing and is only controlled by low levels of water temperature. As the mean water temperature increases, the seas become red with algae. They will turn to blood and the infestations are further distributed by shipping, wind and currents. This will further destroy marine life and environment, disrupting the food chain. The perennial red algae, Grateloupia cuneifolia, from the Rio Grande Port, R S Brazil, was analysed for seasonal fluctuations over the period April 1980 to March 1981. The tests showed great variations in the elements with levels of 40.4 to 129.5 mg/g of zinc, 7.1 to 59.5 mg/g of copper, 28 to 209 mg/g of lead and 0.09 to 43.1 mg/g of cadmium in dry weight of algae (Yunes et al., 1982). This will prove to be of critical significance, with increase in metal pollutants and temperature, to the marine environment. The seas turning to blood may not be so hard to comprehend.


Incidence of the occurrence of heavy metal concentrations are consistent with the known distribution of undersea earthquake activity which indicates that the release of heavy metals into the sea by volcanic activity may increase the risk of red tides. Thus, the seas turning to blood may result from the various earthquakes and volcanic explosions noted in Revelation 6:12; 8:8 etc.


Crabs, etc.

The effect of heavy metals on unclean food of the crab type is being identified on an increasing basis. The effects of free cupric ion activity in seawater on metallothionein and growth in crab larvae has been demonstrated by Sander, Jenkins Sinda and Costlow (see ASFA Pt. 1, Vol. 14 No. 6, item 14194 - 1Q14). Their data reveals predicable relations between cupric ion activity in seawater and processes at the cellular and organismic levels.


Zinc and tin pollution also affect the eco-system polluting the intertidal environment entering the system at the invertebrate and suspension feeder level. Again, this is a prohibited food source under the food laws.


It has also been demonstrated that the synoptic state of fish may be a kind of self-guard action to prevent the accumulation of toxic compounds into their bodies. It is probable that this has a direct bearing on the clean and unclean varieties (Ogawa, Tonogai, Ho, Twaida, Osaka 1983 – from ASFA Pt. 1, Vol. 14 No. 6, item 14232 - 1Q14).


It is also worth noting that some species of shellfish accumulate cadmium from uncontaminated sources at greater rates than from contaminated sources. For instance, Frazier and George, 1983, examined two species of oysters, O. gigal (L) and O. edulis (L). They demonstrated that O. edulis accumulated cadmium from an uncontaminated environment. Thus, these food prohibitions are not polluted environment specific, but apply generally. One of the unfortunate safeguards of some clean fish to heavy metal poisoning (in this case, trivalent chromium) is demonstrated by its effect on the early life stages of the steelhead trout. Stevens and Chapman, 1984, demonstrated that contamination produced complete mortality in early life stage exposure from newly fertilised eggs to 30 d post swim up at 495 ug/l and significantly reduced survival at lesser levels. Hatching survival was significantly reduced at 271 ug/l. No acclimation resulted from previous chromium exposure. In other words, these clean fish, if contaminated, do not live or reach maturity and do not develop any immunity over time. The food laws thus remain constant. This law is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow.


It was also demonstrated by Cai, Chera, Wu and Xu in 1983, that the critical organisms for the accumulation of cobalt (Co) are phytoplankton and clam, and that of caesium (Cs), are phytoplankton and shrimp. In fish, the accumulation organs of Co and Cs are stomach, intestine and liver, thus eliminated by cleaning, whereas the whole of the other organisms are involved, except for shrimp where the accumulative organs of Co are head and chest and Cs distributes in the whole body of the shrimp (or prawn).


This demonstrates that different forms of metals distribute themselves in various ways throughout the invertebrates and molluscs. It further demonstrates that the higher forms and clean species have more efficient systems of eliminating toxins. However, at too high a level metals are uncontrolled. With cadmium, hematocrit value and red blood system is affected. At low levels the haemoglobin concentration, hematocrit value and red blood cell count is affected. Above that, liver damage and anaemia result (Kayama and Ozaki, 1984).


It has also been demonstrated that increased levels of copper reduce respiratory and feeding rates of fish and maturity and fecundity as well as reducing the food chain from primary productivity, plankton and chronomial production (Mukhopadhyay, 1983). Increased pollution will therefore limit also clean fish production.


Ambient marine ecosystems are also prone to intake of concentrations of petroleum hydrocarbons. Observations on the blue mussel show increases after oil spillage clean-ups from a background 40 ug/g to 652 ug/g at 3 miles and 533 ug/g at 4.5 miles from shore. It becomes increasingly more dangerous to disregard the food laws and the susceptibility to pollutants among (particularly American) harbours of muscles and clams is well documented. All harbour environs worldwide are affected. Whilst increases in pollutants will necessarily mean an increase in the level found in fish, it could be argued that some clean fish, such as flatfish (i.e. flounder) are necessarily more at risk. It is true that zinc accumulation in external organs is important. It is argued that the Benthic way of life may not be responsible for a preferential bioaccumulation of trace metals in flatfish. The hypothesis of an uptake via food and sediment cannot be rejected, however (Amiard et al., 1983).


It has also been established that many viruses of human origin are widely distributed in estuaric and coastal areas and have been isolated from seawater, marine sediments and shellfish samples. Evidence indicates that bacterial indicators are not true measures of the presence of viruses in polluted samples (Ellendar and Cook, 1981, and Flondorfer, 1984). Unclean foods are thus prohibited for their capacity to transmit entero-viruses also.


Some also contain paralytic shellfish poisons on a widespread basis. One of the causes of paralytic shellfish poisoning in the green mussel, Perna oriental, in samples in the Philippines in 1983 was the dinoflagellate, Pyrodimium bahamense var compresse - a cause of a series of red tides in the early and middle 1970s. Toxicity levels were high and indicates another aspect of both shellfish and red tides (see Gacutan et al., 1985). Poisoning appears at levels of about 60 ug toxin per 100 g meat; and is a serious problem in the northern coastal areas of the United States (Sullivan and Iwaska, 1983). There are now more than 12 known toxins involved in red tides and paralytic shellfish poisoning. The Genyaulex toxin is widespread in the USA. Investigations also reveal weakly toxic organisms in areas never previously reported (Shuniza, 1983).


Human pathogenic bacteria have been found to be high in crabs and oysters. With the exclusion of Staphylococcus aurcus, all of the pathogens were present in highest numbers in the live crabs and oysters, suggesting that processing is effective in controlling the numbers of pathogens present in these types (Elliot and Colwell, 1982, pub. 1983). However, not all bacteria were controlled by processing.


Tests have also revealed that even for clean fish, curing is an imperfect way of processing with defects in imperfect cleaning, inadequate salting, and unhygienic conditions of processing, (Joseph et al., 1983). Fungus can be removed and fungal re-infestation can be prevented in dry fish products infested with fungus and red halophilic bacteria by washing, drying and then smearing with a mixture of 3% sodium propionate in dry refined salt in a ratio of 1 part dry mixture to 10 parts dry fish. The shelf life is five months (Nair et al., 1983).


The bacteria Vibrio Flurialis has been isolated from shellfish in the Adriatic Sea. Eleven strains of this disease have been isolated in shellfish on the shores and for sale in retail shops. Vibrio Flurialis is a Ralophilic, causing human diarrhoea vibrio in fishery products of the Mediterranean, (Gionella et al, 1984).


In the Galician, mussels appear not only to be infected with Gynadinium catenatum in addition to Protogonyaulax tamarensis causing paralytic shellfish poisoning, but also infections of a diarrhetic kind (Spain, 1983). The contamination of the estuaric environment in the USA by sewage has led to numerous outbreaks of Hepatitis A, Norwald illness and non-specific gastro-enteritis among shellfish consumers (Durham, NH USA, pub. June 1985, ISSN 0160-8347). A re-infective environment is thus set up amongst shellfish consumers and virus enteric illness (including Skigelloides) places these people at high risk. The diseases are thus self-inflicted wounds.


Some of the infections of soft tissue wounds by estuaric vibrioneciae have also led to some fatalities. Consumption of shellfish and other unclean species appears to be sheer folly or, at best, a form of Russian Roulette. Man’s systematic destruction of his environment will ultimately destroy the delicate environment from which he subsists and the distinction between clean and unclean may become academic in the marine environment, as none may exist at all.


Heart Disease

Recent research in Japan concerning the relationship between aortal sclerosis and metals in biogeochemical environments shows that there was a marked accumulation of calcium (Ca) and phosphorus (P) recorded in a sclerotic part of an aorta, but the Ca/P ratios were much smaller than those for healthy aortas and lumbar vertebrae. The concentrations of the trace metals zinc (Zn), lead (Pb), copper (Cu), nickel (Ni), tin (Sn), manganese (Mn) and cadmium (Cd) in particles suspended in the principle 169 Japanese rivers were markedly high in the north eastern district where the sulphate/calcium carbonate (SO4/ CaCO3) ratios in waters were large and the death rate from apoplexy was high. The Ca/P ratio is markedly smaller in acid foodstuffs, such as meat and cereal, than in alkaline foodstuffs, such as vegetables and fruit. The amount of metals in the sclerotic aorta is positively correlated with the excess intake of trace metals as well as acid forming substances, such as SO4 and P, from the biogeochemical environment (Teraoka, Japan, 1984 as quoted in ASFA, Pt. 1, Vol. 15 No. 6).


It is thus demonstrated that a balanced diet of meat and cereals as well as vegetables and fruits is healthier for your heart than unbalanced vegetarianism. (The excessive intake of trace metals affecting the heart also occurs from shellfish consumption.) It is probably for this reason, among others, that Paul comments on the aberration of vegetarianism in the last days at 1Timothy 4:1-3, where he says,

Now the spirit speaketh expressly that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith; giving heed to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons. (RSV).

Verse 3 says:

Forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, etc. (KJV).

These two aberrations are not always hand in hand (see the paper Vegetarianism and the Bible (No. 183).


Meat carries natural quantities of vitamin B12 which cannot be replaced under a vegetarian diet. The body can cope with vegetarianism for some years without serious effect, but after that the effects on the brain as well as the above heart imbalances occur.


The removal of fat, which is a prohibited substance under the food laws, reduces heart disease to a minimum and the prohibition on the consumption of blood further enhances the body’s system.


The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation in Australia is beginning to examine the concept of naturally occurring toxins in our food, and Drs. Fenech and Dreosti were analysing this issue when this paper was first written. In addition, Dr Robert Scheuplein, Chief Toxicologist of the United States Food and Drug Administration, recently estimated that 98% of cancer causes in our diet are natural.

Dr Dreosti was to say in 1990 that:

There are a variety of naturally occurring toxins in plants just as potent as man made pesticides, but we’ve tended to completely overlook them so far. (The Weekend Australian, 18-19 August 1990, p. 7).

Most plants possess quinones, potatoes contain Glyce alkaloids and cereals, milk, fat, eggs and honey contain Pyrrodizidine alkaloids, with peanuts containing aflatoxins. Lucerne or alfalfa sprouts contain pharbol esters and massive amounts of vitamin K which thicken blood, increasing blood clotting capacity and thereby risk of heart disease.


Foods contain many substances to counteract the toxin or natural poisons and not enough is known of the relative balances. What is certain, however, is that increasing heavy metal pollutants and unbalanced vegetarianism involve concentrations of food types and, hence, specific toxins occur. This may well result in the overloading of the body repair systems and assist in cancer causation in the DNA structure as well as heart disease by toxin and heavy metal build-up.

Methods of cooking, especially burning or overcooking, can also destroy beneficial substances and release carcinogens.


More research is reinforcing the biblical position and will probably prove Paul correct and the food laws absolute.

The important purpose of the unclean species lies not in their application to humans but rather as a food source for the clean species and as an integral part of the environment. The filtration capacity of the shellfish and the food production capacity of the estuarine environment are in delicate balance. It must be protected. The maintenance of the food laws will ensure the balance is maintained. More importantly, it will ensure the environment is protected and kept clean provided we control other pollutants. God gave us this planet to tend and to keep, not to destroy.

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