Ciguatera food poisoning

Madeleine Larzul

Ciguatera is a food poisoning that is in any reef fish such as barracuda, grouper, red snapper, moray eel, amberjack, parrotfish, hogfish, sturgeon fish, kingfish, coral trout, and sea bass.  The toxins are concentrated in the fish liver, intestines, heads, and roe.  The toxins do not affect the taste, texture, or odor of the fish and cannot be destroyed by cooking, or any other method of food preparation.  These reef fish are located in the Pacific Ocean, the Indian Ocean, and the Caribbean Sea.  Symptoms include diarrhea, vomiting, numbness, itchiness, sensitivity too hot and cold, dizziness, and weakness and can last months and sometimes weeks.  The Center for disease control and prevention announced that there are 50, 000 cases each year globally. Scientists announced that ciguatera may become more common around the globe as climate change warms our oceans and causes more storms which bring the widespread of fish around the world.  The director of the University of Florida Emerging Pathogens Institute, Glenn Morris, states “The increases in temperatures that are witnessed in the Caribbean Sea may have an effect.  It is important that we understand the potential impact of climate change and rising sea surface temperature on the occurrence of this disease.”  There are no preventive vaccines against the Ciguatera food poisoning, but as prevention, you can avoid eating reef fish over 2.7 kg / 6 lbs or filets of large fish and not eat the liver, intestines, heads, and roe of smaller reef fish.  Unfortunately, for now there are no cures for ciguatera, so when people get it they are stuck with it for a while.

researchers recommend avoiding eating reef fish in reducing the risk of ciguatera


Fish containing ciguatera at a supermarket