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Food Safety Focus (166th Issue, May 2020) – Food Incident Highlight

The Dangers of Eating Puffer Fish

Last month, the Department of Health announced a suspected case of tetrodotoxin poisoning. The victim was admitted to hospital in critical condition after consuming puffer fish caught by himself.

Eating puffer fish is the main cause of tetrodotoxin food poisoning. Tetrodotoxin is a potent marine neurotoxin mainly found in the eggs, liver and skin of puffer fish. However, other parts of the fish such as flesh can also be contaminated by the toxin during processing, such as cleaning and eviscerating of the fish. Tetrodotoxin can affect a person's central nervous system and in severe cases may result in death. This toxin is heat-stable, cannot be destroyed by cooking and has no antidote to date.

To prevent tetrodotoxin-related food poisoning, the trade should pay attention to the import and sale of fish and fish products to ensure they are safe for consumption. The public is advised not to consume puffer fish.