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Food Safety Focus (196th Issue, November 2022)– Article 3

Is Ornamental Fish Meant for Consumption?

Concerns about food safety were brought up in an online discussion about eating ornamental fish. Fish for food and most fish that people keep as pets are different in species and how they are raised. Though some fish species may be used for both ornamental and consumption purposes, consumers may not be able to distinguish edible species.

Ornamental fish may not have been raised to be food. These fish may not be fed with pathogen-free feed, potentially contaminated with parasites and bacteria. Some medications in treating ornamental fish diseases should not be used in fish for consumption, like certain veterinary drugs (e.g. malachite green) and antibiotic residues (e.g. chloramphenicol) which are harmful to humans. Some of these chemicals are heat stable and can not be removed by cooking. Moreover, some fish, such as dog-faced puffer fish, contain life-threatening toxins.

Ornamental fish is not meant for consumption. Consumers should only buy fish from licensed food premises. Food businesses must ensure the fish they sell is fit for human consumption and that it complies with local laws.