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Foods -- Seafood

Are puffer fish safe to eat?

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Puffer fish are poisonous, but their toxicity varies. Some confusion exists as to the toxicity of the Atlantic Northern Puffer, which is caught and often sold as "sea squab" in our region. Some reports indicate that it is not toxic, whereas other reports indicate that it does produce a toxin. The toxin is found chiefly in the skin, liver, gonads, and intestines. Consequently, if eaten, the fish should be thoroughly cleaned of all skin and viscera before cooking.

In Japan, puffer is known as "fugu" and is an expensive delicacy. Because the Japanese puffer is so extremely toxic, it can be prepared only by trained and licensed chefs.

SOURCE: Donn Ward, Ph.D., Joyce Taylor, and David Green, Ph.D., Department of Food Science, NC State University

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