From: Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR)
Published June 16, 2017 10:10 AM

Increase in ciguatera fish poisoning cases in Europe

Fish is a healthy diet, it supplies important omega-3 fatty acids and trace elements like iodine and selenium. However, eating fish caught in certain regions can sometimes also have its risks. In Bavaria, there have recently been reports of multiple cases of diarrhoea, vomiting and cold pain following consumption of imported deep-frozen fish. The symptoms are typical signs of ciguatera - one of the most frequent fish poisonings worldwide caused by ciguatoxins in edible fish. The substance ciguatoxin is only found in fish from tropical and subtropical seas. For some years now, cases of ciguatera have been reported with increasing frequency in Europe, in particular on the Spanish and Portuguese islands in the Atlantic but also in Germany. New information indicates that these toxins are increasingly prevalent in the Mediterranean. The global trade of imported fish is another reason for the increasing occurrence of ciguatoxin poisoning in Europe. "Fish should be a regular part of the diet", says BfR-President Professor Dr. Dr. Andreas Hensel. "Ciguatera is a very rare form of fish poisoning in Germany. The reported cases have been caused by the consumption of contaminated tropical predatory fish such as various snapper species." These include Lutjanus bohar (two-spot red snapper), Lutjanus argentimaculatus, Lutjanus erythropterus (crimson snapper) or Pinjalo pinjalo.

European scientists have combined their expertise in the EuroCigua project on the "determination of the incidence and epidemiological characteristics of ciquatera cases in Europe". The aim is to characterise the risks of ciguatoxin poisoning in Europe. The EuroCigua project is developing reliable methods for the identification and quantification of ciguatoxin in fish and microalgae in European waters. Under the umbrella of the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), 14 further European organisations from six member states are involved in the project, including the BfR.

Continue reading at Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR)

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