PETALING JAYA: The Health Ministry is coming up with a regulation – make the sale of pufferfish illegal unless its toxins have been removed first.
Amendments to the Food Act 1983 would forbid the import, preparation, advertisement or sale of pufferfish unless it is made safe first by “qualified persons”.
And anyone found guilty of the offence would be fined RM10,000, or two years’ imprisonment.
Health director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said the new law, through regulations governed by the Act, was being finalised for gazettement.
The amendments were first proposed in 2014 when the ministry sought public opinion on the proposals.
Unlike Japan, where licences are issued to expert chefs after a tough exam and apprenticeship, Malaysia has no organisation that regulates those who wish to prepare pufferfish for consumption.
From 1985 to 2014, the ministry’s Disease Control Division recorded 55 cases of pufferfish poisoning and 17 tetrodotoxin-related deaths.
Dr Noor Hisham also said that the ministry would continuously educate consumers on food safety, including the dangers of eating pufferfish.
“Consumers are advised to be careful when eating pufferfish as it can cause death.”