Fugu blowfish fail sparks emergency warning in Japan city

Henrietta Brewer
January 17, 2018

Officials in Gamagori activated the town's emergency loudspeakers - "intended for use in case of North Korean missile attack", notes The Times - to warn the population about the mistake, and to appeal for the recall of the fugu.

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

Three of the potentially lethal specimens have been located, but the other two remain at large, local official Koji Takayanagi said.

It prompted an emergency response from local authorities, with loudspeakers across the city being used to urge residents not to eat the fish.

Toshiharu Hata, a fugu wholesaler in Japan previously told CNN it is traditionally served as transparent paper-thin strips on porcelain pates.

The fish, also referred to as puffer fish, contains a toxin hundreds of times more poisonous than cyanide; its liver alone can contain enough poison to kill five men.

But the fish's skins, intestines, ovaries and livers contain a poison called tetrodotoxin that can be fatal. Eating it could potentially end up in paralysis, coma, or death. Its liver is mostly toxic and is banned from sale. There is no known antidote to the poison.

In December a year ago it was revealed that more than 50,000 non-toxic fugu had been raised by a Japanese aquaculture company to help eliminate the dangers of preparing and eating the fish.

"In Japan, we were eating fugu 8,000 years ago, and many people died because of the poison", chef Masato Sawahara said, as quoted by Prestige.

Chefs in Japan are required to obtain a special license for preparing the fish. The Souza family, from Rio de Janeiro in Brazil, were given the fish by a friend who had returned from a fishing expedition and they were unaware of the potential dangers.

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