Japanese hunt deadly fugu fish sold in supermarket error

Joy Montgomery
January 17, 2018

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.

Blowfish, known in Japan as fugu, is a highly prized delicacy both as sashimi or as an ingredient in soup, but the fish's liver, ovaries and skin contain the poison tetrodotoxin and the parts must be removed by specially trained and licensed preparers.

The five packets of fugu that triggered the alarm in Gamagori were sold with their livers still in place, Agence France-Presse reports.

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

The officials are using loudspeakers, which are used to make announcements during an quake and other disasters, to alert residents.

Three packages of the risky delicacy have already been located and will be retrieved, but the authorities still don't know where the remaining two are, Takayanagi added.

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"Eating a blowfish liver can paralyse motor nerves, and in a serious case cause respiratory arrest leading to death", regional officials said in a warning statement.

Certain parts of pufferfish contain tetrodotoxin.

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.

Several deaths are reported most years in Japan - although the number has dropped dramatically in recent decades - while dozens of other unlucky diners suffer from non-fatal symptoms.

Chefs in Japan are required to obtain a special license for preparing the fish.

"It's a very tasty fish, but that's not the only reason people choose to go to a fugu restaurant", said Shinichi Ueshima, a chef at the Dote restaurant in Yokohama.

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