What is tetrodotoxin?
Tetrotodoxin is a potent neurotoxin which has been isolated from a number of marine species. The most commonly known tetrodotoxin is from the puffer fish, while it can also be found in parrot fish, goby, angelfish, blue-ringed octopus and starfish etc.
In fact, only the muscles of the puffer fish do not contain the toxin while the offals, blood, skin and gonads are toxic. The toxicity and the distribution of toxins vary with different species of puffer fish.
The hazards of tetrodotoxin
Tetrodotoxin is a heat stable toxin; it cannot be destroyed upon high temperature cooking. Once intoxicated, patients will show signs of numbness in the face and limbs, nausea, vomiting and chilling etc. For more severe cases, tetrodotoxin may cause death due to respiratory or circulatory failure.
Research studies have indicated that humans will show signs of intoxication after ingesting 0.2 mg tetrodotoxin while 1-2 mg of tetrodotoxin is fatal.
Safety tips to the public
1. Do not eat the fish after private fishing.
2. Avoid purchasing and handling puffer fish or other unknown fishes by ourselves.
3. Ensure that there are qualified chefs in the restaurant before eating puffer fish.