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Dublin: 6 °C Saturday 20 December, 2014

New blowfish law anger Tokyo’s chefs

Poison… poison… tasty fish.

CHEFS IN TOKYO are furious at new laws that will relax the high-restricted preparation and sale of blowfish – or pufferfish – in the city.

Japanese fugu is a well-known delicacy made from blowfish (if you’ve forgotten, this might jog your memory) which can fetch prices upwards of €300 a dish. However, the flesh also contains the highly toxic substance tetrodotoxin – a fatal poison with no known antidote.

For the past sixty years, the sale of fugu in Tokyo has been tightly controlled and only chefs who have undergone intense training are given a license.

However, outside of the capital, regulations around the sale of fugu is much more relaxed, Reuters reports.

Although the number of deaths from eating the fish have decreased in recent years, there are still several fatal incidents reported annually involving people preparing fugu at home, reports the Japan Times.

Last November, a woman was also rushed to hospital when her lips turned numb after eating a slice of the fish at a Michelin-starred Tokyo fugu restaurant. Notably, the woman had eaten a slice of liver, which is among the most poisonous parts of the fish and is illegal to serve.

But officials don’t seem concerned about the potential for increased fatalities:

“Outside of Tokyo, the regulations for blowfish are even more relaxed and yet there are hardly any poison-related accidents,” said Hironobu Kondo, an official at the city’s Food Control Department.
“There is the hope that the number of restaurants with unlicensed chefs serving blowfish will rise, and that blowfish as an ingredient will be used not only for traditional Japanese foods but also others such as Chinese and Western foods.”

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