Fish – ciguatera poisoning

 Used with permission Queensland Museum

Red Bass

Ciguatera food poisoning is an unusual form of food poisoning most typically caused by larger and older fish that live in warm ocean waters. However smaller warm ocean water finfish may also be implicated. The poisoning is caused by people eating fish containing the ciguatera toxin. The contaminated fish have eaten smaller fish that eats the algae that shelters a tiny organism responsible for producing a toxin that causes ciguatera.

Within 24 hours symptoms emerge including numbness around the fingers, toes and mouth, a burning sensation when in contact with cold, joint pain, nausea, itchiness and for people with high sensitivity, breathing difficulties. Problems may be encountered with eating coral trout, spanish mackerel, reef cod, barracuda, emperor, groper, sturgeon, trevally and kingfish. Any warm water predatory fish over 6 kg should be treated with suspicion. Under no circumstances should the head, roe or liver be eaten, and it is wise to eat a small portion of any large fish to test for reactions 24 hours before serving. If you develop symptoms seek medical advice. See more about Natural toxins in food