Avoid eating unknown types of pufferfish, says Fisheries Dept

KUALA LUMPUR: The Fisheries Department advises the public to avoid eating pufferfish as almost all of them contain toxins that can cause poisoning if consumed incorrectly.

Fisheries director-general Datuk Adnan Hussain in a statement said individuals who handled pufferfish for consumption should also have proper experience and knowledge of the fish.

He said consumers who bought fish online, especially in fillet form, should also check the species and type of fish they were purchasing.

"If you choose to try pufferfish-based dishes or products, avoid eating the body parts that contain toxins such as the liver, skin, intestines, and ovaries, and these parts must be properly removed before cooking.

"This is because tetrodotoxin will not be destroyed even if it is cooked at a high temperature... this tetrodotoxin poison can attack the nerves and lead to death if eaten," he said.

The public is also advised to immediately seek treatment from a medical centre if they experience symptoms of poisoning such as nausea, vomiting or muscle weakness within 30 minutes to two hours after consuming pufferfish.

According to the department's statistics, the total landing of pufferfish in Malaysia in 2020 was around 1,337 tonnes, with the highest landing in Perak (804 tonnes), followed by Sarawak (228 tonnes) and Sabah (192 tonnes).

Commonly caught pufferfish are from the Lagocephalusia species which are banana pufferfish, including Lagocephalus wheeleri, Lagocephalus spadiceus, and Lagocephalus lunaris.

On Tuesday (March 28), Johor Health and Unity Committee chairman Ling Tian Soon was reported to have said that an elderly woman died on Saturday (March 25), while her husband was still being treated in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU), after the couple was believed to have been poisoned from consuming pufferfish.

It is understood that the couple who live in Jalan Sin Tiam Chamek, Kluang, Johor, got supplies via pre-booking from a seller on Facebook.- Bernama

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