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DOH warns against eating 'butete'

- Sheila Crisostomo () - August 24, 2010 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - The Department of Health (DOH) has advised the public not to eat puffer fish, known as “butete” in Filipino and “fugu” in Japanese, because it is poisonous.

In an advisory, the DOH said puffer fish contain the toxins tetrodotoxin and saxitoxin that affect the central nervous system and is “1,200 times more deadly than cyanide.”  The toxins that are typically found in the liver, gonads, intestines, and skin of puffer fish are not eliminated by cooking or freezing.

“In fact, freezing and thawing of the fish prior to removal of the organs containing the toxins may result in the toxin’s migration to the flesh of the fish,” the advisory said.

Symptoms of puffer fish poisoning are tingling sensation in the lips and mouth followed by dizziness; tingling sensation in the extremities; difficulty speaking and maintaining balance; muscle weakness and paralysis; vomiting and diarrhea.

In severe intoxications, respiratory paralysis can lead to death.

DOH said only trained professionals can remove the toxin-containing organs of puffer fish.         

Puffer fish is a delicacy in Japan where special training and certification is provided to establishments that handle the fish. There is no such facility in the Philippines.         

The DOH has warned local restaurants, markets, and grocery stores not to buy or sell puffer fish to the general public.         

Two weeks ago, two people died of puffer fish poisoning in Santander, Cebu City, while six others were hospitalized after eating the fish.

The fish was cooked in coconut milk and served for dinner.

CEBU CITY DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH DOH FISH PUFFER SANTANDER TOXINS
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