The US Food and Drug Administration issued a warning to seafood processors about recent illnesses linked to fish carrying the ciguatera toxin, the Wall Street Journal reported. People who consumed tainted fish developed cases of ciguatera fish poisoning (CFP).
The toxic fish came from the Northern Gulf of Mexico, near the Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary, which is located in federal waters south of the Texas-Louisiana coastline. The FDA had not been concerned about fish from this area and CFP until recently, when outbreaks in Washington, D.C. and St. Louis, MO were confirmed.
The FDA now considers CFP to be a food safety hazard that is reasonably likely to occur in grouper, snapper, and hogfish captured within 10 miles of the marine sanctuary and amberjack, barracuda and other wide-ranging species captured within 50 miles of the sanctuary.
The Wall Street Journal explains that these fish feed on fish that have eaten toxic marine algae. While the toxin does not harm living fish, it affects larger carnivores who have higher concentrations of the toxin in their tissues. (This means too that the greatest risk comes from the largest fish.)
CFP is rarely fatal. Symptoms of CFP include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea; numbness and tingling of the mouth, hands or feet; and joint pain. If you suspect you have CFP, the FDA advises contacting a doctor immediately and reporting what fish you ate. You can find more information on the advisory on the FDA website.
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