Tag Archives: Puffer-fish poisoning

Puffer-fish poisoning – Poison, poison… Tasty fish!

As I’ve said before, the definition of disease is fairly open and, in a sense, poisoning is a disease. Does it really matter whether a toxin is produced by something that’s in the body as opposed to outside the body? Perhaps. I don’t know. I don’t really care. Here’s this week’s article.

For a long time, the Japanese have known that people who ate puffer-fish liver would, on a somewhat regular basis, become paralysed, stop breathing and die. This became such a widespread problem that Japan banned the sale of puffer-fish liver in restaurants and markets in 1983. Despite this, people have not stopped eating it. In fact from 1997 to 2007, 470 people were admitted into hospital for puffer-fish poisoning, 30 of whom died. People eat these livers thinking they have special ways of neutralising the toxin. Experimentally (as seen as above) these ways do not work.

OK, Japan. Come here a minute, I just want to talk to you. Now I enjoy food. I’ll eat deliciously deep-fried food that will sever a good couple of months off my life. I’ll go on the occasional bender and increase my risk of cirrhosis. Hell, I’ve eaten at McDonald’s when it wasn’t even necessary. But really, Japan, there is no fish innard tasty enough to warrant risking dying a slow, frightening death by suffocation.

Junk food and alcohol. Probably still not as bad as puffer-fish liver... maybe. (Picture taken by uhh... someone, I don't remember)

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