The story appears on

Page A5

May 18, 2010

GET this page in PDF

Free for subscribers

View shopping cart

Related News

Home » Metro » Health and Science

Child survives balloon-fish poisoning

THE Shanghai Children's Medical Center said it has saved a boy who was poisoned from eating balloon fish found in dried fish fillets.

The five-year-old, from Nantong in Jiangsu Province, has recovered after receiving treatment in time, doctors said yesterday.

The boy ate some dried fillets at noon on May 8 and started to vomit and lost consciousness in the evening. He received first aid in a local hospital and was transferred the next day to the Shanghai Children's Medical Center, where he was diagnosed with balloon-fish poisoning.

"The balloon fish may have been mixed up with the dried fish fillets by mistake during production," said Xia Lin, from the medical center. "We have reported the issue to the Nantong food safety authorities."

Last month the Shanghai Food and Drug Administration rejected a proposal from the top advisory body to allow balloon fish to be served in specially licensed restaurants.

"Balloon fish is not considered as food under current Chinese law due to its toxicity," said Gu Zhenhua, director of Shanghai FDA's food inspection department. "Though some regions in the nation are studying legislation for its commercial use and have carried out pilot tests on consumption, all this is research, so no restaurants have been approved to sell balloon fish."

He said Shanghai is also doing such research, but "the work is only scientific research and it is illegal to sell balloon fish in wet markets or restaurants."

"We issue warnings to local residents on the danger of eating balloon fish every year and there is one or two people killed by eating the fish annually."

Shi Youyi, a member of Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference Shanghai Committee, proposed in January that local authorities issue rules on the breeding, processing and management of balloon fish and allow the fish to be sold at licensed restaurants.

The central government conducted trials on the consumption of balloon fish in cities including Dalian, Qingdao, Shenyang and some in Jiangsu Province - in which 121,239 people ate the delicacy from 1998 to 2002 without one poisoning case, said Shi in his proposal.

"Shanghai was included in the trial in 2002, but there have been no changes so far," he said. "Since it is difficult to completely ban selling and eating balloon fish as people like the taste so much, the authorities can avoid poisoning cases through licensing qualified restaurants and chefs undergoing strict training."

Balloon fish are highly toxic, especially their internal organs, as they contain tetrodotoxin, a compound that makes the organs taste bad and is often lethal to other fish. For humans, tetrodotoxin is 1,200 times more poisonous than cyanide.

But their meat is considered a delicacy in Japan and China.

Shanghai started to breed balloon fish on a large scale in 1996.

Last year, Shanghai set up nearly 5 square kilometers of farms to raise balloon fish, which were exported or made into medicines.


Copyright © 1999- Shanghai Daily. All rights reserved.Preferably viewed with Internet Explorer 8 or newer browsers.

沪公网安备 31010602000204号

Email this to your friend