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Updated: November 09, 2018
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How Many People Die From Blowfish Poisoning Every Year in Japan?

Many people are both curious yet scared of trying this typically Japanese dish. But is the fear justified? How many people do actually die from blowfish poisoning every year?

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What makes "fugu" poisonous?

The neurotoxin tetrodotoxin found in the pufferfish's organs are what makes it deadly. The poison can be found in the liver, the eyes, the ovaries and the skin.

This being said, chefs who prepare the deadly fish are very well aware of the fish's dangers and prepare the fish with the uttermost care and follow strict regulations. Does this mean they are no deaths? Unfortunately, the simple answer is no.

Do people actually die from fugu food poisoning?

You're thinking of trying "fugu" the poisonous fish, but you're measuring the risks. And you're wondering how many people actually die from food poisoning every year in Japan. Well, let's dive right into the prickly subject!

If prepared incorrectly, fugu contains enough poison to kill 30 adults. 3-0! But the important majority of people who died from fugu poisoning prepared it themselves. Others specifically asked to eat the dangerous organs, such as the liver or ovaries. It isn't completely safe though, people have still been hospitalized or have died after having it at a restaurant, but the percentage is rather low. In fact, according to the statistics from the Tokyo Bureau of Social Welfare and Public Health, out of the deaths reported in Tokyo between 1993 to 2011, only one occurred at a restaurant. Since the year 2000s, other statistics indicate that on average about one person a year dies from it due to improper self-preparation.

How to spot food poisoning

The symptoms of fugu poisoning are slightly different from the typical food poisoning symptoms.

First, you will feel a tingling sensation on your tongue which indicates that the poison has entered your body and is attacking your neurotransmitters.
Next, you will feel symptoms listed above in the pictogram, dizziness, etc., followed by violent vomiting. You will then have trouble breathing, which is part of the loss of your motor functions. Eating blowfish liver can lead to motor nerves paralysis and to respiratory and cardiac arrest, which leads to death.
A respirator is the only thing that will save the victim as there are no known antidotes.


All that being said, this fish is quite commonly eaten in Japan so your chances of poisoning are virtually zero if you eat it at a certified restaurant.
Fugu sashimi
The Japanese hold this fish in great esteem and praise this fish as being very worth the price (fugu dishes are on average around ¥5,000 or more). It can be eaten raw as sashimi or in hot pots.
If you want to try this Japanese delicacy, click on the link below to find out where to eat in Tokyo!
Lili Wanderlust
I love travelling and discovering new cuisines. Japan has a panoply of local dishes to try. I also love yoga, coffee, reading, and cycling.

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