Blowfish alert: Japan officials seek possible poison package

A central Japanese city has used its emergency loudspeaker system to warn residents to avoid eating blowfish meat after it was discovered that one package of the fish still contained toxic liver.

The market sold five packages of fish without removing their livers, which can contain a potent neurotoxin.

Local official Koji Takayanagi told AFP that a warning not to eat locally purchased fugu had sounded over speakers installed citywide using Gamagori's "emergency wireless system". With four other packages sold but unaccounted for, city officials alerted residents via the emergency loudspeakers normally used for earthquakes and other disasters.

Japanese chefs are required to obtain a special permit to prepare the fish as "the fish's skin, intestine, ovaries and liver contain a poison called tetrodotoxin that can be fatal", adds the paper.

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Regional health officials said Tuesday a supermarket in Gamagori sold five packages of assorted blowfish meat on Monday.

Fugu fish, also known as pufferfish, is one of the most expensive winter delicacies in Japan, though eating it can be like playing Russian roulette. Tetrodotoxin poison will cause numbness around the mouth, then paralysis and that can lead to a person's death.

"Eating fugu liver can paralyze motor nerves, and in a serious case cause respiratory arrest leading to death", regional officials said in a warning statement. Three of the packages of fish have been recovered by authorities, but two others remain at large.

Between 2005 and 2015 in Japan there were 11 deaths as a result of eating the fish while 359 people were treated for fugu poisoning. One fugu could kill up to 30 people and there is no known antidote.

(Copyright © 2015. All Rights Reserved.)
 
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