Poison Blowfish: A Deadly Dinner in Japan Puts 11 in the Hospital

2009 November 23

Sushi is a delicacy in Japan, and probably the most famous Japanese food in America. Whenever anyone hears sushi, they think of raw fish, and how adventurous (and healthy) it must be to eat fish uncooked. No one ever thinks it might be dangerous.

The one exception to this is blowfish. To anyone who’s ever lived in Japan or thought about going there, blowfish is famous for its borderline poisonous properties. All restaurants that carry blowfish need special chefs to prepare the fish just right, and if it’s not prepared correctly it can potentially be poisonous. Everyone tries blowfish because of the potential danger and of course unique taste, but no expects to actually get poisoned.

Both the Yomiuri and the Asahi reported on the Blowfish (fugu in Japanese) poisoning incident:

Asahi: “Toyama: poisoned while eating blowfish nabe, 2 people in critical condition” On the evening of the 23rd, 11 people were eating blowfish nabe at Kozushi, a sushi restaurant in Toyama Prefecture. 9 of those people exhibited symptoms of poison and were rushed to the hospital, and 2 people were rendered unconscious.

According to the Asahi, there were about 21 people eating blowfish nabe that night. 11 people were admitted to a nearby medical facility, with symptoms such as having trouble breathing. The cause of people’s sickness was that the part of the blowfish that is poisonous was not completely removed, according to the poison control center at the facility. The sushi chef who prepared the blowfish did have his sushi license.

Yomiuri: “Toyama: 2 people rendered unconscious by poisonous blowfish nabe” Compared with the Asahi, the Yomiuri dramatized the incident of the poisoning blowfish. They said the 11 people emitting symptoms of poison were rushed to 3 nearby hospitals. The symptoms of poison were not only shortness of breath, but also people’s mouths and faces going numb.

The Yomiuri also mentioned that the blowfish prepared that morning was from a different fish market than what is usually purchased. The Yomiuri, along with the Asahi, pointed out that the sushi chef who prepared the blowfish did have his license.

Nikkei: Swine Flu’s dismal statistics The Nikkei did not report on the poison blowfish incident this morning but instead ran a headline about the swine flu in Japan and its dismal statistics. According to the Nikkei, when looking at the ministry of Health and Human Welfare’s website, “1 in 14 people in Japan have been infected with the swine flu.” In regards to deaths, they said “1 in 14,000 will be killed by the swine flu.”

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