Deadly blowfish guts sold at grocery; Japanese city officials send emergency warning

Last supper? Alert in Japan as deadly fugu fish sold by mistake in supermarket

Five packs of Yorito fugu (blunt head blowfish) were sold at a supermarket located in Gamagori city, in the central Aichi Prefecture, by a licensed employee who had not removed the livers, according to Hiroko Mizuno, an official from the district's Life and Hygiene department. Three of the packages of fish have been recovered by authorities, but two others remain at large.

"We are calling for residents to avoid eating fugu, using Gamagori city's emergency wireless system", he told AFP.

Fugu is considered a delicacy in Japan, and is typically served as sashimi (raw fish) or in a hot pot.

The part of the fish that contains the poison can differ from one fugu to another, with the "rapid and violent" poison said to be 1,200 times more deadly than cyanide.

Fugu fish, also known as pufferfish, is one of the most expensive winter delicacies in Japan, though eating it can be like playing Russian roulette.

Certain parts of pufferfish contain tetrodotoxin. The fish's skin, ovaries and livers contain tetrodotoxin poison, which is described as "rapid and violent".

A Japanese city issued an emergency alert to residents Monday after two people ate potentially unsafe portions of fugu fish that should not have been sold.

Many consumers, however, are wary of its reputation and some local authorities have called for a ban on its sale.

In December past year it was revealed that more than 50,000 non-toxic fugu had been raised by a Japanese aquaculture company to help eliminate the dangers of preparing and eating the fish.

"Eating a blowfish liver can paralyse motor nerves and in a serious case cause respiratory arrest leading to death", an official warning reads.

Several people are killed each year in Japan from blowfish poisoning.

Chefs in Japan are required to obtain a special license for preparing the fish.

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